- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are both optimistic about reaching a coronavirus stimulus deal, with the Trump administration eyeing another 48-hour timetable on Wednesday.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said she’s confident a deal will be reached soon to mitigate the pandemic’s economic fallout, but she’s just not entirely sure it will be completed before Election Day.

“I think we have a prospect for an agreement. I don’t think our timetable has come and gone,” she said on MSNBC. “I’m optimistic. There will be a bill. The question is, is it in time to pay the November rent — which is my goal — or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive.”

Earlier Wednesday morning, Mr. Meadows said the negotiations have entered a “new phase,” and they are drafting up specific legislative language for lawmakers to work off of.

“I am optimistic,” he said on Fox Business. “We do share one goal, and that is, hopefully, to get some kind of deal in the next 48 hours or so.”

“The last 24 hours have moved the ball down the field,” Mr. Meadows added.

The two sides still have a number of issues to hammer out — including the funding level for state and local governments and how to balance the Democrats’ request for stronger OSHA worker protections with the Republicans’ priority on liability protections.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican, remained skeptical a deal could be reached in the next 48 hours, saying it was “possible, but not probable.” He said appropriators still don’t have the details of what they’re supposed to be working on.

Mrs. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who have been spearheading the talks for the past few weeks, are set to speak again Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Pelosi said a deal would have to be agreed to by Friday if lawmakers were going to be able to pass something before Election Day.

Although on Wednesday, the speaker still had some skepticism.

“We obviously want to have a deal by November 3rd,” she said on the “Joe Madison Show.” “That really is going to be up to whether the president can convince Mitch McConnell to do so. However … I think Mitch McConnell might not mind doing it after the election.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told colleagues that he warned the White House not to strike a deal with the Democrats before the election.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told reporters he’d bring any potential deal the White House signs off on up for a vote “at some point.”

Mr. Meadows said he never got a warning from Mr. McConnell about a deal, but said he’s confident there will be enough votes to get a deal through.

“The focus on Senate Republicans right now and whether the votes will be there or not is misplaced focus. It needs to be focused on Speaker Pelosi and is she going to be reasonable,” he told reporters at the White House.

Senate Republicans don’t want to spend more than $1 trillion and have put the emphasis on their own $500 billion targeted package that streamlines aid for a handful of bipartisan items such as schools, small businesses and unemployment assistance.

It’s unlikely that package will pass when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday, with Democrats saying it’s far too small of an offer.

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

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