Pelosi Unveils 48-Hour Deadline for White House on Stimulus Talks

October 18, 2020 Updated: October 18, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave the Trump administration a 48-hour deadline to reconcile differences in a stimulus package.

“Where we have agreement, we don’t have agreement in the language yet, but I’m hopeful,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week” on Oct. 18. “The difference amounts to this, if you think of it this simple way: When you say ‘may,’ you’re giving the president a slush fund,” she said. “He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold.”

It isn’t clear what will happen if the White House and Pelosi don’t resolve their policy disputes in the next two days.

Over the past several months, negotiations on the stimulus package have stalled and restarted several times. On the table are stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, small business loans, aid to cities and states, a bailout to the beleaguered airline industry, and more.

“There remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said on Twitter on Oct. 17. “Decisions must be made by the White House in order to demonstrate that the Administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement that provides for Americans with the greatest needs during the pandemic.”

Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Oct. 17 for more than an hour, but the two again failed to reach an accord 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, which were both 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 court,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a member of the House’s progressive wing, told Pelosi on Twitter.

Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arrives at a Senate Republican policy meeting in Washington, on July 28, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Hammill said Pelosi and Mnuchin made progress on a nationwide policy for testing and tracing while addressing the CCP virus impact on minority communities. A spokesperson for Mnuchin also confirmed the talks, saying the two parties would again speak on Oct. 19.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to sign a larger stimulus package than Democrats or Republicans have offered.

“I’m ready to sign a big, beautiful stimulus,” the president said at an NBC town hall on the night of Oct. 15. He has also repeatedly called on Congress to “go big or go home.”

However, if the White House and Pelosi come to an agreement, it’s possible the Senate won’t pass the measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he won’t support the White House’s deal, adding on Oct. 17 that the GOP will vote on a smaller $500 billion package next week.