Nancy Pelosi remains hopeful a deal on a new stimulus bill can be reached before the November 3 election, but said that Monday is a deadline for more progress in talks with the White House to make that happen.
“Are we going with it, or not? And what is the language?” the House Speaker said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday.
Pelosi said a 48-hour deadline mentioned in a tweet by her spokesman related to the need to agree “on the design on some of these things,” a reference to unresolved aspects of a bill.
“The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do,” she said.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke at length about efforts to finalise a stimulus package to help the US 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.
Pelosi singled out proposed provisions on Covid-19 testing and tracing as an area with disputed wording. “But I’m hopeful,” she said.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, cited that topic in his tweet 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.”
Pelosi was asked about opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to a relief package as large as the $1.8 trillion or more that she and Mnuchin have been discussing.
She responded that McConnell said he would put a bill on the Senate floor that reflects an agreement between the House and the White House if one materialises. That, however, “is among his many statements,” she said on ABC.
Pelosi was referring to a statement by McConnell’s office that actually 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, which that have failed to bridge gaps between President Donald Trump’s 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.”
McConnell’s own objection to any deal involve the amount. Trump said he was prepared to go above the $1.8 trillion his team had been trying to offer to Pelosi, who favours a $2.2 trillion plan.
“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said of Trump’s latest position.