Legislative / Policy Update
House. The House is in recess and has no votes scheduled until Nov. 16, unless House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reach agreement on a Covid-relief package. Following floor votes the week of Nov. 16, the House is scheduled to recess for Thanksgiving, reconvening Dec. 1. With a target adjournment date of Dec. 10, the House currently has only 13 days of floor votes on the calendar between now and the end of the year.
Senate. The Senate is in recess until Oct. 19, with its only action taking place in the Judiciary Committee, which is holding hearings today through Thursday on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. A committee vote on the nomination is envisioned on Oct. 22, followed by a floor vote the week of Oct. 26.
Covid Package. The Mnuchin-Pelosi negotiations are taking place in private, but the finger-pointing continues to be a very public exercise and has now devolved into a release of letters. On Saturday, Oct. 10, Pelosi wrote her Democratic colleagues that the Administration had returned to the negotiating table but its proposal was “one step forward, two steps back.” Sunday morning, Pelosi sent another letter to her colleagues, charging that the Administration’s proposal is “wholly insufficient” and “does not meet the health needs of this crisis.” This was followed by a letter from Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows calling on Congress to allow for the use of unspent Paycheck Protection Program funds and charging that the Speaker’s “all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people.”
As Pelosi was criticizing the Administration’s $1.8-trillion offer as insufficient, Republican Senators were telling Meadows that the proposal was too expensive. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to express skepticism that a relief package will be voted on before the elections.
Debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday officially cancelled the second Presidential debate that was scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami. The commission was ready to switch to a virtual format for participants’ health and safety following the President’s coronavirus diagnosis, but President Trump said he would not participate if the debate was not held in person. Democratic nominee Joe Biden will instead participate in a town hall in Philadelphia hosted by ABC News. There is a possibility that President Trump will participate in a competing town hall on NBC. The final debate will take place Oct. 22 in Nashville and the format will be identical to the first debate.
Down the ballot in Senate races, a number of debates are scheduled this week, beginning with a virtual face-off this afternoon in Georgia between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, and New Hampshire will all host Senate debates later this week. Bloomberg Government’s House and Senate debate schedule spreadsheet can be found here.
Fundraising. A record was set in South Carolina by Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, who raised $57 million in the 3rd quarter, breaking the previous quarterly record for a Senate candidate by $19 million. Harrison is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has not yet released his fundraising totals.
Polls. According to the latest Real Clear Politics average, Biden holds a 10.6-point advantage nationally and leads in the six top battleground states. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released this weekend has Biden up 54-42. Biden maintains his leads in Michigan and Nevada according to a CBS/YouGov poll, while Biden and Trump are in a dead heat in Iowa. Trump is up by five points in Texas in a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll.