Pelosi: ‘We’re Just About There’ on Pandemic Relief Deal
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats and the Trump administration are coming closer to a COVID-19 stimulus deal, although negotiators have not come to an agreement on state and local funding and businesses’ liability protections.
Republicans in the Senate are in favor of the liability protections, while Democrats have sought billions of dollars in funding for states and cities. Republicans in the Senate have balked at a multi-trillion dollar package.
The two sides, Pelosi said, are “just about there” on the talks. “I am hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement,” she said, adding that there has been progress over the past several days.
“I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement. I can’t answer for the disarray from the Senate on the other side,” Pelosi said at a news conference on Thursday. She added, “We’re not going to make the world straight in this bill, but we’re going to finally, finally, take steps to crush the virus.”
Pelosi noted that she would not spend any time in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unless progress was being made on a CCP virus package.
Even though there has been headway made in the talks, it’s unlikely that a stimulus bill will be passed before the Nov. 3 election. On the table are direct stimulus payments, extra unemployment benefits, loans for small businesses, and funding for efforts to combat the virus and reopen schools.
Pelosi said she is “still optimistic” that the bill can be voted on by Election Day.
Some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), have signaled they would be open to voting on a White House-backed plan as they worry that long-term economic damage could be caused if no action is taken.
During negotiations since the summer, Republicans and Democrats have cast their efforts as fundamental disagreements with how the federal government should act in dealing with the economy. Millions of people have lost work in recent months due to state and local shutdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and some economists have warned that inaction on stimulus could lead to more economic pain. However, the Department of Labor said Thursday that initial jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level since about March, when the pandemic first began.
Meanwhile, Trump, in a newly released interview with “60 Minutes,” called for more stimulus because, he said, the spread of COVID-19 isn’t the fault of anyone except the Chinese Communist Party.
On Twitter, the president said he doesn’t believe Pelosi or Senate Democrats “will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus,” accusing them of wanting to bail out “poorly run” and “high crime” Democratic-run cities and states.
“Should take care of our people. It wasn’t their fault that the Plague came in from China!” he wrote.