MarketWatch: First week of coronavirus aid talks in Congress make no progress

I spoke to Jonathan Nicholson of MarketWatch about ongoing negotiations over the next phase of the congressional covid response, recent progress (or lack thereof), and how this stalemate might be resolved.

Liam Donovan, a principal with Bracewell LLP’s Policy Resolution Group, a Washington-based lobbying and public relations firm, said it’s hard to figure out how a deal gets done quickly.

“It still takes some magical thinking to figure out, working backward, how do they get to a deal,” he said. “If we’re talking a week from now and they somehow got to a deal, was it simply the pressure of taking off? Was it the threat of losing recess time? I don’t quite know.”

But Donovan said Democrats are holding the upper hand now in bargaining because of Republican disunity. That could change though, he said, as the Republican Senate begins finally taking votes on policies. The Senate, on a 47-42 vote Friday, began the procedural process to begin to debate the unemployment add-on.

And while resolving that issue would be major progress, Donovan said he still thinks the liability provisions that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called a “red line” are an even bigger hurdle.

“That was always going to be the trickiest piece to sort out,” he said.

Read the full piece here.

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CNN: McConnell signal to Republican Senate candidates: Distance from Trump if necessary

I spoke to CNN‘s Mike Warren about what the covid negotiations can tell us about the state of the Senate races.

Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist, said this kind of negotiating by endangered GOP senators in the stimulus bill “tells you everything you need to know” about the state of the election and the expectation that Trump is heading toward defeat.

“Vulnerable members desperately need something to get done while their ambitious colleagues in safe seats are writing off 2020 and thinking about how what they do and say now will look in 2024,” said Donovan.

You can read the full piece here.

I should note that I pushed back on the framing of this story on twitter:

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Daily Beast: Team Trump’s Mounting Fear: His Base Will Abandon Him

I spoke to Sam Stein of the Daily Beast about the President’s fortunes and its impact on downballot Republicans:

Trump’s refusal to modify his base-only approach has had ramifications down the ballot. Senate Republicans, GOP operatives concede, could theoretically stand to benefit from presenting themselves to voters as a bulwark against a likely Biden presidency. But they’ve been remarkably reluctant to do so. And those strategists argue that it’s because they have concluded that their own fates are tied to the enthusiasm of Trump’s base.

“To the extent these [Senate] races remain a presidential referendum by proxy, Republicans carry all of Trump’s baggage in the eyes of his haters without necessarily generating the same enthusiasm or recognition among his supporters,” said Liam Donovan, a former aide at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Unless and until it becomes a choice between the candidates—or a check on full Democratic control—the Senate majority will only go as far as the president’s performance can carry it.” 

Read the full piece here.

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