As the countdown to the Tuesday evening stimulus agreement deadline continues to near, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to make progress in their ongoing relief talks. In a nearly one-hour phone call Monday night, the pair "continued to narrow their differences," according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff.
In a statement released via Twitter just after those discussions took place, Hammill provided an optimistic outlook on the relief talks, which have now been taking place for several months amid a push to pass an additional stimulus package by election day. Hammill said that Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke over the phone "for approximately 53 minutes," during which "they continued to narrow their differences." According to Hammill, Pelosi has since directed House committee chairs to work to resolve remaining areas of disagreement with the White House.
"The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election," Hammill added in a second tweet. "The two principals will speak again tomorrow and staff work will continue around the clock."
The Monday afternoon talk marked a final push to pass further aid before the Nov. 3 election, with Pelosi on Sunday setting a 48-hour deadline for an agreement to be reached to make this possible. That deadline expires at the end of the day Tuesday, with both sides still having key differences to resolve. One of those key differences is the language surrounding a provision targeting coronavirus testing and contact tracing. Pelosi, in a letter to he colleagues Sunday, explained that the White House has taken "out 55% of the language" Democrats had used in this provision, replacing words such as "shall" and "requirements" to "may" and "recommendations," which she said could "make the funding a slush fund for the Administration which 'may' grant or withhold rather than a prescribed, funded plan to crush the virus."
Speaking with Joy Reid on MSNBC's The Reid Out Monday, Pelosi said that they "have made progress in that." She explained that "they came back, and they are agreeing to that. Now, they're not agreeing to all the language yet. But that's that. But we have different values, and therefore it's a longer road back for them to do the right thing."
Should the Tuesday night deadline be missed, Pelosi and Mnuchin would continue their negotiations, though additional relief would not be made available until after Election Day. This is largely due to the time in which it would take any additional legislation to pass through both chambers of Congress.