- The Washington Times
Thursday, September 10, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday there won’t be any coronavirus relief added to the government spending deal she’s working out with the White House.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, is drawing a line between the collapsed negotiations for a comprehensive coronavirus deal and her talks with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on a stop-gap “continuing resolution” to keep the government funded past the end of the month.

“Those negotiations are separate from this,” she told reporters.

While the odds of getting lawmakers back to the negotiating table in the next two months look grim, Mrs. Pelosi refused to rule out the prospects of working out a deal before the November election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose chamber is voting on a “skinny” relief package Thursday afternoon, accused Democrats of blocking any kind of compromise to boost their chances in the election.

“Let’s not have a skinny bill when we have a massive problem,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

“I think McConnell [is being] his cynical self by saying, ‘I’ll just put something on there. It’ll look like we’re trying to do something,’ ” she continued.

Democrats and Republicans remain hundreds of thousands of dollars apart when it comes to a larger deal.

Democrats have demanded Republicans up their topline number to at least $2 trillion, while the White House is unsatisfied with their demands for more than $900 billion for state and local governments.

The GOP proposal is estimated to cost around $500 billion — a steep drop from the Democrats’ $3 trillion proposal.

The bill includes more than $250 billion for another round of small business loans, $105 billion for schools, and $16 billion for testing and contact tracing resources.

It also provides liability protection against COVID-19 related injuries and converts a $10 billion loan for the U.S. Postal Service into a grant.

Both Mrs. Pelosi and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, have rejected specifically the liability protections and school choice provisions, in addition to arguing it leaves too much on the cutting room floor.

The GOP package is not expected to get the 60 votes it needs to pass its procedural hurdle.

Republicans want to use this vote to put Democrats in the difficult position of voting against provisions that do have a lot of bipartisan support, like funding for schools and getting out small business loans.

“Today, every senator will either say they want to send families the relief we can agree to, or they want to send families nothing,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have until the end of the month to pass a government spending bill and avoid adding a government shutdown on top of an economy crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

But Mrs. Pelosi is optimistic the spending deal will go through as expected.

“We’re down that path. We are now looking at anomalies and the rest, figuring out the timing,” she said.

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