U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA on October 9, 2020.
Ting Shen | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked the Trump administration to resolve remaining disputes Coronavirus Stimulus legislation within 48 hours as lawmakers seek to pass legislation ahead of the 2020 elections.
Pelosi set the 48-hour deadline for negotiations after speaking with the finance minister Steven Mnuchin on Saturday evening for more than an hour.
In an interview on ABC News on Sunday, Pelosi said the deadline is on lawmakers’ ability to close a deal before the November 3rd election. The spokeswoman said she was optimistic about negotiations, but the outcome ultimately depends on the White House.
“The 48 only refers to whether we want to make it before the election, which we do,” said Pelosi. “We tell them we have to freeze the design for some of these things – do we deal with it or not and what is the language like? I’m optimistic because we’ve been going back and forth on all of this.”
Economic talks dragged on for months despite the coronavirus spreading across the U.S. and millions of Americans remaining unemployed.
Pelosi and Mnuchin made some progress in the negotiations, with the recent call last night leading to “encouraging news of testing” according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff.
The two still have differences in terms of a comprehensive plan for Covid-19 testing, contact tracing, and “measures to combat the virus’ disproportionate impact on color communities,” Hammill said.
Pelosi, who identified testing as the main point of contention in talks, said Sunday that there is no agreement between Democrats and the government over the language used in testing. Mnuchin said last week that the White House will not allow differences over funding targets for testing derailment talks.
“We’re trying to be clear,” Pelosi said on Sunday, adding that Trump administration officials who draft the legislation are “not lawmakers.” She said the White House made significant changes to the language in testing and tracking after it initially agreed to accept the language.
“They changed from May to May, requirements to recommendations, a plan to a strategy, not a strategic plan. They took out 55% of the language we had there for testing and tracking,” Pelosi said.
Democrats, who passed a $ 2.2 trillion relief bill in the House of Representatives, dismissed the Trump administration’s recent $ 1.8 trillion proposal as insufficient. Both sides disagree on major policy issues, including funding state and local governments and protecting businesses during the pandemic.
Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin are able to reach a non-partisan deal, many Senate Republicans have opposed spending nearly $ 2 trillion on a package.
The Senate will vote on a limited stimulus bill of $ 500 billion on Wednesday, which includes funding for schools, expanded unemployment benefits and a second round of the paycheck protection program.