With just 11 days left before the November election, and as a record number of new daily Covid-19 cases heightens pandemic uncertainty, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says there’s still a chance another round of stimulus can at least be negotiated before November 3—despite key continuing disagreements between Democrats and the White House that make the prospects seem slim.
Asked on a televised Friday morning MSNBC appearance if she believes “we are going to get” another stimulus bill, Speaker Pelosi said she “would hope so,” before launching into a critique of President Donald Trump’s back-and-forth on the deal (he called off talks at one point, only to reverse course and say he was ready to spend more than Democrats) and insisting that the President needs to get Senate Republicans on board.
One key and lingering disagreement with the White House has been Pelosi’s insistence on “crushing the virus” with a $75 billion package that would pay for, among other things, expanded Covid testing and tracing—something the Trump Administration has “avoided for months and months and months, even though we have had the resources and the language in previous bills,” Pelosi said on Friday.
“[The White House] must allocate the resources in a way that follows CDC guidelines to crush the virus because everything else we’re talking about will just continue, and perhaps worsen, unless we crush the virus,” she added, before rattling off measures such as mask-wearing, testing, tracing, treatment, separation, ventilation and sanitation.
Pelosi was optimistic toward the end of the interview, saying she thinks the Administration will ultimately “embrace the science in a substantial way” that also addresses the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on minority communities.
During a Thursday afternoon conference call with her leadership team, however, the Speaker reportedly said some House Democrats have told her they don’t want to vote on a Covid relief bill before November 3 unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will also hold a vote on the Senate floor before the election—something he has not committed to do.
Meanwhile, at the Oval Office on Friday after Pelosi’s MSNBC appearance, Secretary Mnuchin said that while “lots of progress” has been made, “significant differences” remain, adding that, “The President’s been very clear in his instructions to me, that if we can get the right deal, we’re going to do that. . . . The Speaker, on a number of issues, is still dug in. If she wants to compromise, there will be a deal.”
“We’ve put pen to paper; we’re writing the bill, and hopefully we’ll be able to resolve some of the differences. We could do that before the election if the President wants to,” Speaker Pelosi said on Friday. “I think he does. I know we do. But we want this to be a bipartisan bill to come to the floor, one that removes all doubt that it would become the law. The President is delusional when he says we’ve turned the corner on [the virus]—we haven’t. We have miles to go.”
Stimulus negotiations resumed in earnest late last month after a months-long standstill, and experts (including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell) have since warned some sort of broad relief is necessary for a sustained economic recovery. Deal progress, however, has been slow. And though Washington is still entertaining the idea of passing a stimulus bill before Election Day, Goldman said on Wednesday the time line was unlikely. There are also several obstacles standing in the way—including growing resistance from Senate Republicans, 13 of who would likely need to vote in favor of a package in order for it to make its way to President Donald Trump’s desk. Pelosi said on Tuesday that for the preelection timeline to work, the text of legislation would need to be completed by the end of this week—which, as of Friday afternoon, appears unlikely.
$1.9 trillion. That’s how much Mnuchin has offered for the stimulus package, much higher than the amount Senate Republicans have been eyeing (they proposed a $1 trillion bill in July), but still below the $2.2 trillion proposal that passed in the Democrat-controlled House earlier this month.
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