Lawmakers Inch Toward Compromise as Biden Confronts Slowing Recovery

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Lawmakers Inch Toward Compromise as Biden Confronts Slowing Recovery

But Mr. Biden is walking a delicate path in moving toward a possible compromise. He has called publicly for an immediate deal to provide more economic aid, even before he becomes president, and spoken favorably about the bipartisan framework. But he has not directly injected himself into talks between Ms. Pelosi and Mr. McConnell, as some lawmakers and aides stressed that any immediate deal would need Mr. Trump’s signature — not Mr. Biden’s.

“The president-elect has been very clear in stating that something needs to happen, that the American people need relief,” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, Democrat of Virginia and one of several House lawmakers who have worked on compromise legislation in an effort to break through the impasse. When asked if Mr. Biden should be more involved, she said she believed it better for Mr. Biden to play a supporting role while Mr. Trump remained president.

“He will not be president until Jan. 20 — we can’t wait until Jan. 20,” Ms. Spanberger said in an interview. “I don’t think it’s appropriate. He’s not yet the president.”

The question of whether Mr. Trump would support a final compromise remains a wild card. Asked Thursday whether he agreed with Mr. McConnell that pandemic relief was “in sight” and whether he would support “this bill,” Mr. Trump answered affirmatively. “I will, and I think we are getting very close,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

While it was initially unclear which bill Mr. Trump was willing to sign, the White House later clarified that it was the outline of the smaller Republican bill, which Mr. McConnell is backing.

Unlike in the fall, when both Republicans and Democrats had political incentives not to cut a deal, statements by Mr. Biden and his congressional allies in recent days show that lawmakers now see compromise as in their best interests. Depending on the outcome, stimulus plans could become a key issue in the Georgia runoff elections that will decide Senate control in January.

Even with the renewed movement, a deal is far from assured.

Mr. McConnell, who has continuously criticized the Democrats as wanting too expensive a package, acknowledged that it had been “heartening to see a few hopeful signs” this week in negotiations. But Mr. McConnell stopped short of endorsing the compromise plan in remarks on Thursday, admonishing lawmakers to focus on policy provisions where there was substantial agreement and signaling that he would not be quick to move off his targeted proposal.

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