House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that a coronavirus stimulus deal is close to completion, but skepticism remains on Capitol Hill.
The California Democrat warned that while a deal could be reached soon, it would have to go through the legislative process, which could push it past Election Day.
“They still haven’t completely signed off on it, but I think we’re just about there,” she told reporters at her weekly press conference. “We are putting pen to paper in certain easier parts of the bill. It’s close.”
“If we can resolve some of these things in the next few days, it’ll take a while to write the bill,” she added.
Democrats and the White House haven’t reached agreement on state and local government funding, liability protections for employers, funding for the census, election money, school safety, or tax credits. Those items, particularly the money for state and local governments and liability protections, have been at the core of the partisan standoff since the summer.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Democrats are holding onto an “ideological wishlist” by keeping their demands on state and local funding and extending aid to illegal immigrants.
“Most of these policies, by the way, have little or nothing to do with COVID,” he said. “As the president said yesterday, we’re not here to bail out poorly run states — whether they’re red, white or blue; we’re not here to bail out pensions from the state governments, we can do that another time… Immigration policy is very important, we have our views, they have our views, we don’t have to solve that now.”
Earlier this week, negotiators estimated Friday would be the latest they could reach a deal and still get a package passed by Congress in time for Election Day, just 12 days away.
Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he’s still not convinced that a deal will get done, and he hasn’t seen enough details about the potential package.
“I think, we’re not going anywhere. A lot of talk, no action,” the Alabama Republican told reporters. “I think, maybe the secretary [Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin], he’s wanting a deal. But the speaker’s looking down the road maybe till after the election.”
Senate Republicans are divided over how to approach the stimulus package, which would be the fifth passed by Congress to try to help people and businesses slammed by the coronavirus and the ensuing shutdowns. Some have said they could support a hefty price tag rather than nothing, while others are extremely wary of that much spending.
Congress has spent nearly $3 trillion on coronavirus relief since March. Thirteen Republican senators must be willing to support a deal costing a minimum of $1.8 trillion for it to pass, a feat Republican Whip Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, said will be difficult.
When pressed about how to wrangle enough Republican votes, Mrs. Pelosi said that it was a task ultimately left to the president but she wants a strong bipartisan vote like the other relief packages.
“I truly believe both sides want to reach an agreement. I can’t answer for the disarray in the Senate,” she said.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.