House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated progress after their latest coronavirus relief talk, as pressure mounts to pass legislation before the upcoming election.
The pair spoke on Monday, October 19, for roughly 53 minutes to “narrow their differences,” according to Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill. Pelosi has directed House committee chairs to work to resolve areas of disagreement with the White House, he added.
The negotiators hope to have “clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election” by the end of Tuesday, October 20, according to the spokesman.
Stimulus talks have been at an impasse as legislators continue to argue over the overall price tag for the next bill.
Pelosi and Mnuchin have been discussing a package in the range of $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion, including extended unemployment benefits and another round of stimulus checks, The Washington Post reported.
The House speaker told her colleagues in a statement on Sunday, October 18, that she is “optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election. To that end, we are writing language as we negotiate the priorities, so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Pelosi Set a 48-Hour Deadline on October 17 to Reach a Deal
On October 17, Pelosi announced via Hammill’s Twitter account a 48-hour deadline to reach a second stimulus package.
Hammill cited an “array of additional differences” that needed to be addressed within the next two days.
“While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color,” the spokesman tweeted.
Hammill said in an October 15 tweet that Mnuchin expressed a willingness to accept Pelosi’s demand for a national strategic testing plan, which was not included in the administration’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Is Pushing for a Targeted Relief Bill for Small Businesses
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, is taking a different approach toward stimulus.
McConnell recently announced plans for a Senate vote on a roughly $500 billion targeted relief package for small business funding — separating himself from the administration’s push for a big-ticket deal.
The standalone vote for additional Paycheck Protection Program funds, which assist small businesses struggling to stay open during the pandemic, will take place on Tuesday, October 20, followed by the main relief bill on Wednesday, October 21, McConnell said.
“Republicans have tried numerous times to secure bipartisan agreement where possible and get aid out the door while these endless talks continue,” said McConnell in his Twitter statement.
“Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break this logjam,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Sunday, October 18, characterized McConnell’s scheduled vote as a “stunt,” according to The Hill.
“Schumer called the $500 billion stimulus bill ‘inadequate, just up and down the line’ and ‘a sham,’” the outlet reported.