- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expects a vote on the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Thursday, though a deal with the White House is still in limbo.

“I’m hoping that we will be voting on it today,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “It is my expectation that perhaps they [the White House] will come back with some counter.”

According to guidance from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office, the vote is officially set for Thursday evening.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin spoke for nearly an hour about a potential bipartisan comprehensive deal Thursday afternoon, but remained at an impasse on “key issues” the speaker’s Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill said in a statement. The two will continue negotiations later in the day.

The speaker said Democrats and the White House were still struggling with “a stark difference not just of dollars, but of values” in their talks, highlighting hang-ups on a child tax credit and funding for state and local governments that her party is insisting on.

She also said that the GOP is digging in on a tax cut that Democrats are staunchly opposed to. Though, Mrs. Pelosi said negotiations are “closer” when it comes to the health provisions and funding for small business relief.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also cast doubts about whether or not talks will amount to any tangible deal.

“Nancy Pelosi is not being serious. If she becomes serious then we can have a discussion here,” Ms. McEnany said. “We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion… it’s a good proposal, but it’s one that she is not interested in.”

She said the White House included $250 billion for state and local governments and $150 billion for schools.

The negotiations between Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin began again in earnest last week after talks collapsed in August. The two met for about an hour and a half on Wednesday and Democrats postponed the initial vote time on the new package to give negotiations a bit more time.

Many are seeing this likely vote on the Democrats’ package as an inflection point for negotiations — if it happens, it’s not likely we’ll see a deal before the election — but Mrs. Pelosi argued that isn’t the case.

“There’s no relation to anything. It just says, you asked, here’s what it is. This is how we came down,” she said.

The Democrats’ bill reauthorizes the small business Paycheck Protection Program and provides another round of the $1,200 stimulus checks, $225 billion for education and $57 billion for child care, $75 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing, and relief for the airline and restaurant industries.

There are also increased food assistance benefits as well as $436 billion in state, local, and tribal government funding. It ramps up OSHA worker protections, provides $3.6 billion for election resources and restores the $600 a week boosted unemployment payments.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have already signaled they’re not willing to go up much higher than the $1 trillion they offered in July, and definitely don’t want to meet Democrats at the $2.2 trillion mark.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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