Pelosi, Mnuchin to Talk Stimulus Again as Trump Hints at Failure

Source: By Erik Wasson and Billy House, October 22, 2020, 3:00 AM CDT, Bloomberg • Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will pick up discussions of a stimulus package again Thursday with time running ever shorter for a deal before the election and President Donald Trump seeking to blame Democrats for any failure.

The two sides “are better prepared to reach compromise on several priorities” after Wednesday’s call between the main negotiators, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted. Pelosi and Mnuchin will speak again Thursday as they seek to “resolve open questions,” he said.

Senate Republicans remain the ultimate roadblock to enacting a roughly $2 trillion deal being negotiated by Pelosi and Mnuchin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made no promises on when the Senate might take up any compromise agreement, and some senior GOP lawmakers expressed skepticism whether the chamber would vote on one even after the election.

Funding for state and local governments, a key issue of dividing Democrats and Republicans going back to the summer, was singled out by both sides as a remaining stumbling block. Trump and his allies have characterized large-scale aid to local authorities as an effort to bail out poorly run, Democratic states.

Trump made that charge again in a tweet Wednesday. He also said, “Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows earlier Wednesday complained that it’s the administration that’s “advancing this negotiation further and further to Nancy Pelosi’s side of the ledger.” The speaker has made only “small” concessions, he said on Fox News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Holds Weekly News Conference

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday put the onus on Republicans for the lack of an agreement, highlighting reports that McConnell had advised the White House to avoid a pre-Nov. 3 deal, given the likelihood of division among Republicans on any vote in the Senate. “Ask the American people. They know who to blame,” Schumer said.

GOP Senators, meanwhile, raised concerns about both the size of the deal under negotiation — $1.9 trillion, according to Meadows — and policy issues in the language.

GOP Opposition

Senator John Cornyn of Texas said, “Part of the message from Senate Republicans is: we need to have a discussion about the substance” of policy measures. Republican senators’ concerns include lack of language to prevent government funding for abortions.

GOP members also expressed skepticism about a post Nov. 3 vote on a stimulus deal. Pelosi had floated such a possibility Wednesday, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the economy and markets would still benefit from the announcement of a deal between the administration and the House in the next two weeks.

Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, a member of McConnell’s leadership team, said, “If we’re going to do it this year, I think it’s now or never.” Republican vote counters in the Senate won’t have the 13 votes needed to pass a stimulus package as large as Pelosi is seeking, according to John Thune, the party’s No. 2 leader in the Senate.

Pelosi Awaits Mnuchin's Stimulus Counter-Offer and Prepares Vote

Photographer: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa told reporters, “It’s pretty hard to predict because I think that what happens in the presidential election will determine that more than anything we know right now.”

Meadows said, “The president’s willing to lean into this” with Republican senators if a deal is reached. But he, too, said he doubted chances of passage were better after the election.

Meadows said on Fox Business that the “biggest issue remains state and local assistance.” While the administration estimates that those authorities have lost $250 billion to $275 billion in revenue thanks to the coronavirus crisis, Pelosi is seeking aid of “about twice that number,” or closer to $500 billion, he said.

Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, also on Wednesday highlighted that “work needs to be done to ensure that schools are the safest places in America for children to learn.”

— With assistance by Laura Litvan

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