U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 9, 2020.
Ting Shen | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on the Trump administration to reconcile remaining disputes on coronavirus stimulus legislation within 48 hours as lawmakers attempt to pass a bill before the 2020 election.
Pelosi set the 48-hour deadline on negotiations after speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday night for more than an hour. They agreed to speak again on Monday.
In an interview on ABC News on Sunday, Pelosi said the deadline applies to lawmakers’ ability to get a deal done before the Nov. 3 election. The speaker said she’s optimistic about negotiations but that the outcome ultimately depends on the White House.
“The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do,” Pelosi said. “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? I’m optimistic, because again we’ve been back and forth on all this.”
Stimulus talks have dragged on for months even as the coronavirus spreads across the U.S. and millions of Americans remain unemployed.
Pelosi and Mnuchin have made some progress in their negotiations, with the most recent call last night resulting in “some encouraging news on testing,” according to Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill.
The two still have differences on a comprehensive plan for Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and “measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color,” Hammill said.
Pelosi, who has identified testing as a major point of contention in talks, said Sunday that there is no agreement between Democrats and the administration on language on testing. Mnuchin said last week that the White House won’t let differences over funding targets for testing derail stimulus talks.
“We’re seeking clarity,” Pelosi said on Sunday, adding that Trump administration officials drafting the legislation are “not legislators.” She said the White House made significant changes to the language on testing and tracing after they had originally agreed to accept the language.
“They changed shall to may, requirements to recommendations, a plan to a strategy, not a strategic plan. They took out 55% of the language that we had there for testing and tracing,” Pelosi said.
Democrats, who have passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill in the House, dismissed the Trump administration’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal as insufficient. The two sides disagree on major policy issues including funding for state and local governments and protections for businesses during the pandemic.
Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin are able to reach a bipartisan deal, many Senate Republicans have opposed spending close to $2 trillion on a package.
The Senate is set to vote on a limited $500 billion stimulus bill on Wednesday, which will include funding for schools, expanded unemployment benefits and a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program.