Amid House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 48-hour deadline for a stimulus relief bill deal to be reached, is there any real chance that an agreement can be struck by Tuesday? Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been continuing relief talks for several weeks now, with Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, providing the latest update on where those discussions stand over the weekend.
According to Hammill, the house speaker and Mnuchin held an hour-long conversation Saturday evening, during which some forward movement was made. Hammill said that during those discussions, "there was some encouraging news on" coronavirus testing, something that has been a key piece of Pelosi's own proposals and a sticking point of negotiations. Hammill did acknowledge that "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."
Pelosi herself had addressed this aspect of relief talks in a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues Sunday. In that letter, the house speaker explained that the "White House had assured Democrats that they would accept our language on testing with a 'light touch,'" though it has since "become clear that these changes are not a light touch but instead, a deep dive." She said that White House has refused "to commit to a science-based national plan for testing, tracing, and treatment to crush the virus" and has "removed 55 percent of the Heroes Act's language for testing, tracing, and treatment."
Elsewhere in his remarks, Hammill, meanwhile, also said "there remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision." Hammill did not expand on what these differences are, though Pelosi said that the White House has continued to refuse "to expand the Child Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit" as well as "increase the child care provisions."
Hammill said that these differences "must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours," a deadline that Pelosi later announced during a Sunday appearance on This Week. Hammill added that the White House must make decisions to reconcile these differences "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's 48-hour deadline, which comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to lead the Senate in a vote on a slimmer stimulus package, does not mark a final end-point for negotiations. Rather, the deadline pertains to passing a relief bill before the November election, as negotiations going on longer than Tuesday would significantly decrease the chances of a bill being able to pass through both the House and Senate in time. If that deadline isn’t reach, negotiations will continue, though additional relief would likely not come until after the election on Nov. 3.