AUGUST 18, 2020
Nancy Pelosi – Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that Democrats might cut their stimulus proposal to seal a deal with Republicans and speed Covid-19 relief, then come back after the November elections with additional agenda items.
Pelosi said she doesn’t want to wait until the end of September when Congress will be attempting to pass a bill needed from Congress to keep the federal government funded at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. As for a stimulus package, she said, “We have to try to come to that agreement now.”
The speaker also said that “we’re willing to cut our bill in half to meet the needs right now,” though her spokesman Drew Hammill later said that she meant meeting Republicans “halfway, not cutting our bill in half.”
The Democratic-controlled House passed a stimulus package worth about $3.5 trillion in May. Senate Republicans offered their own $1 trillion plan at the end of July. But negotiations between Democratic leaders and the White House have been stalled since Aug. 7. Pelosi had previously said Democrats could cut their top-line by $1 trillion if the Republicans moved up by $1 trillion.
“We’ll take it up again in January,” Pelosi said on Tuesday.
The Trump administration has advocated a so-called skinny approach, pushing for a smaller package that addresses areas on which both sides agree. A key sticking point so far has been a Democratic call for almost $1 trillion in aid for state and local authorities, which have seen their finances crippled by the economy’s slump into recession. President Donald Trump says the move would reward what he says are poorly run states.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of the two key Republican negotiators along with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, said earlier Tuesday he hoped to meet with Pelosi later in the week to resume talks. He noted that the House is now scheduled to return to session, to take up funding for the Postal Service, which has become embroiled in a political battle ahead of a November election set to feature unprecedented mail-in balloting.
“Since Speaker Pelosi is coming back to look at Postal, hopefully she will be more interested in sitting down,” Mnuchin said on CNBC. The chamber is set to vote Saturday on adding $25 billion in Postal Service funding.
Earlier this month, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that that Democrats do not have the votes on their side to go below $2 trillion for the top-line number for the stimulus.