- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2020

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Monday that he wants to move ahead with a piecemeal or skinny coronavirus bill to get some relief passed through Congress.

“I do think that there is the potential for a deal as long as politics do not get in the way again,” Mr. Meadows said on Fox News. “But even if a large comprehensive bill is not possible because of a few things that are out there — and there’s still some major differences — let’s go ahead and pass a number of the things that we can agree upon and hopefully, we can do that.”

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated several times last week to try and hammer out a comprehensive coronavirus relief bill before the election.

They spoke again for about an hour on Monday about “justifications for various numbers” and exchanged paperwork, according to top Pelosi aide Drew Hammill.

“We’re having our conversations. We’ll be talking again tomorrow morning,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told reporters.

When pressed on whether she thinks it’s possible to actually reach a deal this week, Mrs. Pelosi said, “One way or another. It depends on if they really want to crush the virus, honor our heroes and put money in the pockets of the American people.”

As of last week, Mrs. Pelosi said the two sides remained stuck on funding for unemployment benefits; money for both schools and state and local governments; allocations for the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit; a higher amount for testing and contact tracing resources; and a $44 billion difference in appropriation discretionary funding.

Democrats’ lowered their initial $3.4 trillion bill from May to $2.2 trillion, which they outlined in a bill that narrowly passed last week. Eighteen frontline Democrats broke rank because they wanted a bipartisan solution.

The White House proposed a $1.6 trillion plan this week, which Democrats saw as still far too small of an offer.

Mrs. Pelosi has repeatedly rejected any attempt to push through slimmed-down proposals, arguing the coronavirus pandemic was too pervasive to address only a handful of issues.

Though on Friday, she did try to push through a stand-alone relief bill for the airline industry as thousands faced layoffs, but it was blocked by Republicans on the House floor.

Mr. Meadows argued the pressure from the public might be enough to change Mrs. Pelosi’s stance to targeted assistance.

“It’s incumbent upon all Americans to put pressure on Congress to say it’s time to come to the table,” he said. “It’s time that we do that and yet, there are a lot of people that continue to hurt, are waiting on stimulus, and the president’s committed to getting a deal done. But he wants to make sure that we move expeditiously but also in a fiscally responsible manner.”

President Trump, who has not directly negotiated with Mrs. Pelosi, tweeted Saturday from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he is battling the coronavirus, for those working on a stimulus deal to “work together and get it done.”

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