October 23, 2020

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Pelosi gives White House 48-hour deadline for coronavirus relief talks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi established a 48-hour deadline to complete talks on a new round of federal coronavirus relief.

Pelosi told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that the deadline “only relates if we want to get it done before the election, which we do.”

The speaker said that her concerns focus on differences between the legal language in the House’s version of the bill and that of the White House negotiators.

“We’re saying to them we have to freeze the design on some of these things,” the California Democrat said. “What is the language? … Shall is different from may. The difference amounts to this: When you say ‘may,’ you’re giving the president a slush fund. He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold.”

The 48-hour deadline was first mentioned by Drew Hammill, the deputy chief of staff to Pelosi, in a trio of tweets Saturday night after the speaker spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by phone for an hour.

“While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color,” Hammill said. “There remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours. Decisions must be made by the White House . [sic] in order to demonstrate that the Administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement that provides for Americans with the greatest needs during the pandemic.”

Pelosi said that despite the differences, she’s optimistic that a deal is in reach.

“I’m optimistic,” Pelosi said. “We’ve been back and forth on all this.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday night that the Senate will try to pass a standalone stimulus bill next week to refund the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement referencing the small business loan Paycheck Protection Program. “The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly.”

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