WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hopeful that congressional Democrats and the Trump administration can reach agreement on a coronavirus relief bill before the Nov. 3 elections, her spokesman said on Monday, adding that major issues still must be ironed out.
“The speaker remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached before the election,” Pelosi Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill said in a tweet following a 52-minute conversation she held with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Hammill added that Democrats were awaiting the administration’s acceptance of a national plan on coronavirus testing and tracing and that heads of congressional committees were still holding discussions.
Many Senate Republicans have resisted legislation of a scope that Pelosi and Mnuchin have discussed, totaling around $2 trillion, and Hammill said that progress depends on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreeing to a comprehensive bill.
Earlier on Monday, Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues: “Ten days after Secretary Mnuchin went on CNBC to declare that he was accepting our testing plan, the administration still refuses to do so.”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House that talks have slowed but were continuing on Monday.
“There are still a number of areas in her plan that the president cannot accept, just can’t accept it,” Kudlow said of Pelosi. “I will also say, there are a number of targeted areas that we really think would help the economy.”
Pelosi and President Donald Trump have been trading accusations for days about who needed to act in order to cement another round of COVID-19 aid before Election Day, with Trump’s fellow Senate Republicans off to the sidelines.
Sticking points remain around aid for state and local governments grappling with the devastating economic fallout of the pandemic and provisions around immigration and healthcare, Kudlow said.
Kudlow would not speculate on chances for a deal before the election. “I am not here to be either optimistic or pessimistic,” he said.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman