- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 20, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin still don’t have a stimulus deal, but the California Democrat eased off her Tuesday deadline in hopes of reaching a deal with the White House by the end of the week.

However, many on Capitol Hill remain skeptical — and even if a deal comes together between the administration and Democrats, there are still spending-wary Senate Republicans to sway.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin spoke for about 45 minutes and found more “clarity and common ground” for a deal, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. They’re set to speak again on Wednesday.

A number of funding and policy issues were still unresolved going into Tuesday’s conversation — including funding levels for state and local governments, level of boosted unemployment benefits, inclusion of liability protections and what tax credits to implement.

The Democrats’ last offer was $2.2 trillion and the White House’s has inched closer to $1.9 trillion, top administration officials said this week.

Pressed by reporters after her call with Mr. Mnuchin about whether or not a deal could be agreed to by the end of the week, Mrs. Pelosi said “That’s the plan. That’s what I would hope.”

Earlier, on Bloomberg TV, Mrs. Pelosi explained the 48-hour deadline she called for on Sunday was to have deal terms on the table so that there would be enough time for the legislative process to unfold.

“So, anyway, engineering back to have it for Election Day, I would think we need to have stimulus by the end of next week. In order for that to do it, we’d have to have our legislation all written by the end of this week. Then you have all of your procedural 72 hours review for the world to see and then it would come to the floor and then the Senate has different procedures,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

However, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican, said it’s been difficult to work on the legislation drafting without particulars from the negotiations.

“You never know what’s gonna happen around here at the last minute. But it’s getting to be towards the last minute. The clock keeps ticking away. And I’m not optimistic about us doing anything,” he told reporters.

President Trump has said he is confident he can get Senate Republicans to back whatever deal he makes, even if that comes with a price tag of over $2.2 trillion.

“Not every Republican agrees with me but they will. But I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats because this is money going to people that did not deserve what happened to them coming out of China,” he said on Fox News.

“I’d take all the votes you could get, whether it’s Democrat or Republican,” Mr. Trump added, when asked if he’d be willing to get support from across the aisle to get a deal done.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, confirmed that the Senate would vote on any “presidentially supported bill,” though he didn’t specify when.

He also reportedly advised the White House against making a deal before the election, according to The Washington Post there are several vulnerable Republican senators up for reelection, with the bid for control of the upper chamber in a close competition.

Senate Republicans have instead put the emphasis on their relief proposals — a standalone Paycheck Protection Program bill that failed Tuesday and $500 billion skinny package Democrats are already trashing.

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