- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated a deal could be near and struck an optimistic tone on Wednesday.
- “I’m pretty happy. I think we have a prospect for an agreement,” Pelosi said in an MSNBC interview.
- Any deal faces significant obstacles, particularly from Senate Republicans. Many are reluctant to support additional relief spending, citing the rising federal budget deficit.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struck a hopeful tone on stimulus negotiations with the White House, raising the prospects of a final deal.
“I’m optimistic. There will be a bill,” the California Democrat said in an MSNBC interview. “The question is, is it in time to pay the November rent â€” which is my goal â€” or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive.”
“I’m pretty happy. I think we have a prospect for an agreement,” Pelosi said, adding that it was “up to the president to convince people in his party.”
Stimulus negotiations between Democrats and the Trump administration have been chaotic for the past three weeks. At one point, President Donald Trump abruptly ended the talks before restarting them only a few days later.
But Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the main White House negotiator, appear to be narrowing their differences on numerous issues, like tax credits for low-income Americans and state aid.
Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, wrote on Twitter that their Tuesday conversation “provided more clarity and common ground as they move closer to an agreement.”
The deal taking shape would likely include another round of $US1,200 direct payments for taxpayers, federal unemployment benefits, and additional aid to small businesses and the airline industry. The price tag for a bipartisan package would range between $US1.9 trillion and $US2.2 trillion.
But any deal faces significant opposition from many Senate Republicans concerned about more deficit spending.
“I can’t find 13 votes,” GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who serves as majority whip, said. He was referring to the number of Republican votes needed to approve a deal if all 47 Democratic-voting senators backed it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he urged the White House against striking a deal before the election as it could complicate their speedy timeline to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Democrats blocked a $US500 billion GOP “skinny” coronavirus relief bill from advancing onto the Senate floor on Wednesday. The 51-44 vote fell along party lines. It was an identical proposal that Republicans introduced last month, which Democrats also rejected as inadequate.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows declined to speculate whether there would be a vote before the election but said the administration was attempting to reach an agreement quickly.
“I think anything gets harder the longer it takes, but now that we’re 90 days into this it becomes really incumbent upon us to get something done and the American people are hurting,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And I think the quicker we can make a deal, the better off it is for all Americans.”