- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday said she hopes the White House will back down on blocking new money for coronavirus testing and tracing in the next COVID-19 relief package.

“When we heard over the weekend that the White House was thinking about no more testing, that goes beyond ignorance — it’s just beyond the pale,” Mrs. Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Hopefully it was a mistake, and they’ll back off it because it is so very wrong.”

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, was responding to reports that the White House is seeking to block new funding for testing and tracing from being included in the next coronavirus rescue package.

Congress is aiming to pass another round of stimulus by the end of the month, but Democrats and Republicans are far apart on what both sides want to see in the next bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly that a bill must have liability protections for reopening businesses in order to pass the GOP-controlled Senate.

In a letter to his colleagues on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Democrats should be prepared to block Mr. McConnell’s offer if it’s not sufficient.

“To make matters even worse, the president is reportedly now urging Republicans to block additional funding for testing — a cynical gambit that appears to be part of the president’s efforts to suppress data and hide his catastrophic response to the pandemic,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat.

President Trump has also mused about vetoing a package if it does not include a payroll tax cut, though Congress has routinely blown through past red lines from Mr. Trump in spending legislation.

Congress has already authorized close to $3 trillion in spending to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

The Democrat-led House also passed a $3 trillion-plus package in May that extended juiced-up federal unemployment benefits through January, included more money for states and localities, and provided another round of direct payments for millions of Americans.

But it also included other provisions tied to elections and immigration, and Republicans had declared it dead on arrival in the GOP-led Senate.

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