- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she set a 48-hour deadline to reach agreement with the Trump administration on relief negotiations that can be implemented before Election Day.

Mrs. Pelosi disputed assertions that her lack of interaction with President Trump had affected the negotiations and told ABC’s “This Week” that the coronavirus relief talks are at loggerheads because the Trump administration believes it understands legislating better than Congress.

“I’m optimistic because again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this,” the California Democrat said. “You know legislation: ‘shall’ is different from ‘may.’ The difference amounts to this: When you say ‘may,’ you’re giving the president a slush fund.”

New polling in key battleground states of Arizona and Wisconsin, however, suggests that voters are blaming Mrs. Pelosi more than Mr. Trump.

The majority of respondents in Arizona and Wisconsin said Democrats in Congress are responsible for the lack of an additional economic relief package, according to a CBS News poll conducted by YouGov Oct. 13-16. Mr. Trump took blame for the stalled package from 40% of respondents in both Arizona and Wisconsin.

“The American people are worried about the stimulus package that Nancy Pelosi is holding up, checks going to people who are concerned, and she’s saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to look at the fine print, I don’t like this one word and I’m going to hold the American people hostage as I play political gamesmanship with their lives,’” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said on “This Week.”

Mr. Trump told reporters Sunday evening while campaigning in Nevada that he thinks Mrs. Pelosi is “coming along” with the White House’s push for a new coronavirus stimulus package.

“We’re talking about it,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I think Nancy Pelosi maybe is coming along, we’ll find out.”

The president said again that he wants “to do it at a bigger number than she wants” and that Republican lawmakers will go along with the proposed aid.

“That doesn’t mean all the Republicans agree with me, but I think they will in the end if she would go along, I think they would too,” Mr. Trump said. “So we’ll see what happens.”

If Mrs. Pelosi and the White House reach an agreement, Senate Republicans may prove to be an intractable obstacle. Some Senate Republicans facing tough reelection challenges have sounded more independent from Mr. Trump’s agenda as Election Day grows near.

In a meeting with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board on Friday, Sen. John Cornyn said he told Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that he had concerns about budget deficits and growing debt attributable to the coronavirus stimulus.

The Texas Republican said he chooses to voice such disagreements privately because doing so publicly has not done him much good, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Republicans have sought to shift the focus from what Senate Republicans would do next. Asked about concerns that the relief bill may be too large for Senate Republicans to stomach, Ms. McDaniel told ABC there was no package because of Mrs. Pelosi.

“This is all on Nancy Pelosi every day, all day,” she said. “She is hurting the American people for her political well-being.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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