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Pelosi, Mnuchin Make Another Run at Stimulus McConnell Opposes

PoliticsOct 21, 2020 11:09
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(Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will try Wednesday to bridge remaining gaps in their talks over comprehensive coronavirus relief, blowing past Pelosi’s self-imposed Tuesday deadline amid signs of progress toward a pre-election deal.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is pressing ahead with his own, more targeted plan, warned the White House against agreeing to anything akin to Pelosi’s more sweeping proposal.

The speaker agreed to continue talking beyond her original Tuesday cut-off, saying an agreement with the Trump administration needs to be done by the weekend to get a bill passed by the end of next week, ahead of Election Day Nov. 3.

“Today’s deadline enabled us to see that decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise,” Pelosi wrote to fellow House Democrats Tuesday night.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, “We’re not just down to a difference of language and a few dollars. We still have a ways to go,” but enough progress has been made to go ahead with another round of talks Wednesday afternoon.

Dangerous Split

Senate Republicans, however, remain on an entirely different track. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney added his voice to the number of GOP members saying they’d vote against anything on the order of $1.8 trillion. Mnuchin has put forward $1.88 trillion, while Pelosi wants $2.2 trillion.

Given the risk of a damaging public split in the party just days before they face voters, McConnell has warned the White House not to rush into an agreement before the election, according to a person familiar with the matter.

McConnell plans to seek a vote on a scaled-down package Wednesday -- a maneuver he tried last month only to be blocked by Democrats insisting on a comprehensive bill.

The Senate Republican effort of $500 billion includes items that both sides support, but is stripped of the elements many GOP members oppose -- including large-scale assistance to state and local authorities, tax credits for working families and relief for airlines.

Timing Question

McConnell said Tuesday his chamber would take up a comprehensive coronavirus stimulus package “at some point” if Pelosi and Mnuchin are able to resolve the final areas of disagreement and get a bill through the House. But he didn’t say whether he would support such a deal, or encourage GOP members to back it.

The Senate majority leader is focused instead on speeding confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, with a potential vote expected early next week.

Meadows said on CNBC Tuesday that if a deal does get done and through the House, “it probably will divide the Republican conference.” There are “some senators who really believe that we’ve done enough for the economy and want zero,” he said.

Progress was made in recent days over a national coronavirus testing and tracing plan. Pelosi also said, in a Bloomberg TV interview Tuesday, she planned to bring a counter-offer to Mnuchin on a Republican push to provide businesses with liability protection against virus-related lawsuits.

Differences remain over issues including tax credits and state and local government assistance.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Pelosi, Mnuchin Make Another Run at Stimulus McConnell Opposes

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