House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that while differences remained with the Trump administration on a broad CCP virus relief bill, she was optimistic the package could be adopted before November’s presidential election.
“I’m optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this,” Pelosi said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.” She added that for a relief bill to pass ahead of the election, an agreement would have to come within 48 hours.
Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Oct. 17 for more than an hour, but the two again failed to agree on a stimulus deal. The last major stimulus package was the CARES Act, passed in March, although Democrats have passed two iterations of their HEROES Act. Both of these were denounced by White House officials and Republicans in Congress.
The latest iteration of the HEROES Act is about $2.2 trillion, while Mnuchin in recent days offered a $1.88 trillion stimulus package. Last week, some Democrats in the House called on Pelosi to accept the White House’s latest offer.
“People in need can’t wait until February. … Make a deal & put the ball in McConnell’s court,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a member of the House’s progressive wing, told Pelosi on Twitter.
Pelosi and Mnuchin have yet to agree on issues including funding for cities and states, child care, tax credits for lower-income Americans, and liability protections for businesses sought by Republicans. Both sides want a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans and to restore some level of federal unemployment benefits for jobless workers.
President Donald Trump told reporters in Nevada on Sunday: “We’re talking about it. I think Nancy Pelosi maybe is coming along. We’ll find out.”
“I want to do it at a bigger number than she wants,” Trump said, adding, “That doesn’t mean all the Republicans agree with me, but I think they will in the end.”
Republicans have been reluctant to pass another giant relief bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying the Senate would vote on Wednesday on a $500 billion relief proposal to target specific areas of need.
“Nobody thinks this $500B+ proposal would resolve every problem forever. It would deliver huge amounts of additional help to workers and families right now while Washington keeps arguing over the rest,” McConnell announced on Saturday.
McConnell also said the Senate will vote on Tuesday on a stand-alone proposal on more funds for the Payroll Protection Program to help businesses through forgivable loans.
While McConnell said earlier in the week that Senate Republicans would oppose a package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, saying that, “My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go.” He said on Saturday that the Senate would consider whatever deal is potentially reached between Pelosi and White House negotiators.
“If Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration, the Senate would of course consider it. But Americans need help now,” McConnell said.
Reuters contributed to this report.