House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to respond to coronavirus relief aid after Democrats made their most recent offer to the White House. The Trump Administration and Democrats have yet to reach a deal after months of back-and-forth, and it now seems impossible that any deal could get done before Tuesday, Election Day. In a letter to Mnuchin, Pelosi outlined the differences the two sides still have, even as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country.
"Your responses are critical for our negotiations to continue," Pelosi wrote Thursday. "The President’s words that 'after the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen' only have meaning if he can get [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to take his hand off the pause button and get Senate Republican Chairmen moving toward an agreement with their House counterparts." Pelosi noted there are "millions of Americans" waiting in line for "hours" to vote, and it was "disappointing" that the White House did not want to increase funding for elections during the pandemic. "We also hope that you will reconsider your opposition to ensuring a full and accurate Census count," the California Democrat wrote.
The White House's latest offer cost about $1.9 trillion, short of the recently sought $2.2 trillion Democrats. The two sides still disagree on the package's specific language, including how the funding for testing, tracing, and treatment, is outlined. On Thursday, Pelosi said Mnuchin still has not responded after Democrats offered "compromise language" on the issue. "We still have not received a final answer on new compromise language regarding whether the Administration will agree to the national, science-based strategy for testing, tracing, and treatment that is needed to crush the virus, as well as language on vaccines, the provider fund and [Affordable Care Act] coverage for unemployed workers," she wrote.
Democrats are still waiting on responses for their offers on state and local funding, funding for schools and child care, tax credits for working families, and federal unemployment insurance. Republicans have also pushed for liability protections for businesses. Still, Democrats have argued against this because they believe it would make businesses less likely to follow coronavirus guidelines if they are protected from lawsuits. Pelosi noted Democrats are waiting for "a response on whether the White House will agree to keep our workers safe as they risk their lives and jobs to keep us safe and keep the economy running."
President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans have accused Pelosi of refusing to compromise to keep Trump from getting a political victory before Tuesday. "Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to approve it. I do," Trump said during the last presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week, notes The Hill. "It's near the election because she thinks it helps her politically. I think it hurts her politically."
The issue remains to get Senate Republicans on board since they have balked at spending over $1 trillion on a stimulus relief package. The Senate is now in recess until after the election. When Congress returns, they will likely be focused on passing legislation to prevent a government shutdown on Dec. 11.