Pelosi: ‘We’re Just About There’ on Pandemic Relief Deal

October 22, 2020 Updated: October 22, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says Democrats and the Trump administration are coming closer to a COVID-19 stimulus deal, although negotiators haven’t come to an agreement on issues such as state and local funding and businesses’ liability protections.

Republicans in the Senate are in favor of the liability protections, while Democrats have sought billions of dollars in funding for states and cities. Republicans in the Senate have balked at a multi-trillion-dollar package.

The two sides, Pelosi said on Oct. 22, are “just about there” on the talks.

“I am hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement,” she said, adding that there’s been progress in recent days.

“I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement. I can’t answer for the disarray from the Senate on the other side,” Pelosi said at a news conference. “We’re not going to make the world straight in this bill, but we’re going to finally, finally, take steps to crush the virus.”

Pelosi noted that she wouldn’t spend any time in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unless progress was being made on a CCP virus package.

Even though there has been headway in talks, it’s unlikely that a stimulus bill will be passed before the Nov. 3 election. On the table are direct stimulus payments, extra unemployment benefits, loans for small businesses, and funding for efforts to combat the virus and reopen schools.

Pelosi says she’s “still optimistic” that legislation can be voted on by Election Day.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin departs
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin departs from the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 30, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), have signaled they would be open to voting on a White House-backed plan, amid worry that long-term economic damage might occur if no action is taken.

During negotiations since the summer, Republicans and Democrats have cast their efforts as fundamental disagreements with how the federal government should act in dealing with the economy. Millions of people have lost work in recent months due to state and local shutdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and some economists have warned that inaction on stimulus could lead to more economic pain. However, the Department of Labor said on Oct. 22 that initial jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level since about March, at the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in a newly released interview with “60 Minutes,” Trump called for more stimulus because he said the spread of COVID-19 isn’t the fault of anyone except the Chinese Communist Party.

The president said on Twitter that he doesn’t believe Pelosi or Senate Democrats “will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus,” accusing them of wanting to bail out “poorly run” and “high crime” Democratic-run cities and states.

“Should take care of our people. It wasn’t their fault that the Plague came in from China!” he wrote.