Nancy Pelosi set a Tuesday deadline for more progress with the White House on a fiscal stimulus deal before the Nov. 3 election, while President Trump renewed his offer to go beyond the dollar amounts now on the table.
While Pelosi said a pre-election deal remained possible, her team sent conflicting signals after setting a 48-hour deadline for progress on Saturday night.
Her spokesman, Drew Hammill, later said the timing of the deadline meant by the end of Tuesday, not Monday. At issue is wording “on the design on some of these things” that remain unresolved in the bill, Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Are we going with it, or not? And what is the language?” she said. “The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.”
Trump weighed in after drawing a rebuff by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week for saying he was prepared to go higher then the $1.8 trillion his team had been trying to offer Pelosi. She favors a $2.2-trillion plan.
Calling in to a Wisconsin TV station on Saturday, Trump said he could exceed the amounts floated so far and voiced confidence that he “could quickly convince” Republicans to back a “good” deal.
“If you said a trillion-eight, if you said 2 trillion, if you said 2 trillion-two — many numbers — I’m willing to go higher than that,” the president told Milwaukee-based WMTJ. “I will take care of that problem in two minutes,” if there’s a deal, he said of GOP senators wary of another large spending package.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke at length Saturday night about efforts to finalize a stimulus package to help the U.S. weather the effects of the coronavirus, especially as signs emerge of rising economic strain for millions of Americans.
They spoke for an hour and 15 minutes and agreed to speak again on Monday, Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said on Twitter. Their staffs will keep talks going in the meantime. Hammill wouldn’t comment on any agreement for Mnuchin and Pelosi to talk on Monday.
Pelosi singled out proposed provisions on COVID-19 testing and tracing as an area with disputed wording. “But I’m hopeful,” she said.
Hammill cited that topic in his tweet on Saturday and “an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours.”
The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin spoke at 7:40 p.m. by phone tonight for just over an hour. While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to…(1/3)
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) October 18, 2020
Pelosi was asked about McConnell’s opposition to a relief package as large as the $1.8 trillion or more that she and Mnuchin had been discussing.
She responded that McConnell said Saturday he would put a bill on the Senate floor that reflected an agreement between the House and the White House if one materialized. That, however, “is among his many statements,” she said on ABC.
Pelosi was referring to a statement by McConnell’s office that focused more on his scheduling the days for votes this week in the chamber on a narrower $500-billion relief bill and a separate standalone bill to help small businesses.
But he also said: “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.”
Barring a breakthrough in the meantime, the Senate votes will underscore the deep differences after months of talks on another stimulus bill. Those talks have failed to bridge gaps among the administration, House Democrats and Senate Republicans.
“Republicans have tried numerous times to secure bipartisan agreement where possible and get aid out the door while these endless talks continue,” said McConnell. “Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break this logjam.”
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