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Pelosi Gives White House Tuesday Deadline for Reaching Stimulus Deal Before Election

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Pelosi Gives White House Tuesday Deadline for Reaching Stimulus Deal Before Election

2020-10-19 14:57:05

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Nancy Pelosi (Image source: Screenshot)


Time is ticking away for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to make a stimulus deal. Over the weekend, the speaker gave the White House a deadline of Tuesday for making a deal before the election.

"Well, that depends on the [Trump] administration," Pelosi responded on ABC's "This Week" after host George Stephanopoulos asked if it was possible to make a deal still before the election.

She's been working closely with Mnuchin over the past few months to make a deal that all sides will be happy with. She put a deadline on the talks this time, saying it would not be possible to finish a deal if an agreement was not made in 48 hours. The election is due to take place two weeks after her deadline. She and Mnuchin talked for 75 minutes on Saturday and agreed to talk again on Monday.

"The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election — which we do," said Pelosi. "But we're saying to them we have to freeze the design on some of these things, are we going with it or not, and what is the language."

Although there have been many complaints surrounding the $2.2 trillion price of the package Pelosi and House Democrats have agreed to, what is keeping an agreement at bay is the recipients of the relief more than the price.

Trump said in an interview Saturday with a Milwaukee television station that he would approve a spending package that was even larger than the $2.2 trillion.

"Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to approve anything because she wants to bail out poorly-run Democrat states," said Trump. "And we don't want to do that."

Pelosi's package would give money to states and cities, but there are Republicans among the local leaders who are asking for aid, not just Democrats, despite Trump's frequent comments about bailing out poorly-run Democratic states and cities.

It's easy to see how he may not know exactly what she's looking for, though, as the president and House speaker have not spoken in over a year. She noted on Sunday, though, that she is negotiating through Mnuchin and said there isn't much point in speaking directly with Trump as he's not truthful.

"You want to meet with him, you meet with him," she told Stephanopoulos. "As far as I'm concerned, the speaker of the House must be respected in terms of what the purpose of the meeting is, what the preparation is for, and what the likelihood of success would be."

The economy took a nosedive at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with businesses forced to close through the lockdown and people losing their jobs or being furloughed. Congress and the White House already agreed on a few other relief packages that were released, and the economy did begin to recover, but it's very slow. And now new cases are spiking all over the country, leaving questions of whether we're headed for a return to stricter lockdowns.

Mnuchin said last Thursday he was ready to accept Pelosi's request for a national strategic testing plan but that he wanted to make a few edits. Pelosi rejected those, as he wants to change "shall" to "may," "requirements" to "recommendations," and "a plan" to "a strategy, not a strategic plan."

Pelosi believes these edits would give the White House too much leeway to back out of the commitment. "When you say 'may,' you're giving the president a slush fund. He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold," she said.

"When you say 'shall,' according to ... what the science tells must happen. ... We can open our schools, we can open our businesses."

There are other issues as well that Pelosi and Mnuchin can't agree on, such as funding for cities and states, child care, tax credits for lower-income Americans, liability protections sought by Republicans, and more. What they agree on is aid for the airline industry and more stimulus checks being issued to individuals.

Currently, Mnuchin is traveling in the Middle East, so it could hamper the possibility of an agreement. Even if they were able to reach an agreement, then it still has to move to Senate Republicans to approve it.

McConnell said on Saturday that the Senate would be voting Wednesday on a much smaller $500 billion package, the same one the House Democrats rejected last month. It includes money for schools, health care, liability protections, small-business spending, and a lowered federal unemployment insurance. It does not include more $1,200 relief checks for individuals. 

However, McConnell said if Pelosi and Mnuchin do reach a deal, "the Senate would, of course, consider it," though it's not clear what he means with that statement.

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