Stimulus deal: Pelosi sets deadline; McConnell plans stimulus vote on Tuesday, Wednesday

Pelosi sets deadline to reach stimulus agreement

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she is setting a 48-hour deadline to reach an agreement with the White House on a COVID-19 stimulus relief bill if one is to be passed before Election Day.

Pelosi, D-California, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that an agreement would have to come by Tuesday to get the package through both houses of Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.

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“The 48 hours only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do,” Pelosi said on “This Week.” “But we’re saying to them we have to freeze the design on some of these things. Are we going with it or not? And what is the language?”

According to Pelosi, she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been negotiating on behalf of the White House in the stimulus talks, still have issues to overcome to reach an agreement.

Pelosi is insisting that aid to state and local governments be included in the plan, while Mnuchin wants to see some sort of liability shield for businesses, schools and government agencies as part of a stimulus package.

The Senate reconvenes on Monday, two weeks after the session was delayed when two senators were diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus.

According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, there will be two votes on coronavirus relief this week. The first, on Tuesday, will be on a $500 billion stand-alone bill to put additional money into the Paycheck Protection Program. The program funnels aid to businesses to help keep them afloat and their employees on the payroll as states have reopened for business, closed, then reopened again.

Around $134 billion earmarked for the program went unspent. The program’s lending authority expired Aug. 8.

The bill set for a vote on Wednesday, also costing $500 billion, would include $300 in weekly federal unemployment aid, money for schools, funds for COVID-19 testing, money for vaccine development and delivery, support for the U.S. Postal Service and limited liability protection for employers and health care workers.

It would not include a $1,200 stimulus check, like the ones sent to more than 180 million Americans early in the year using money from the CARES Act.

The bill under consideration on Wednesday is almost exactly the same $500 billion bill as the one Democrats blocked last month in the Senate.

While McConnell has 53 Republican senators, he will need seven Democrats to get the 60 votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate.

The bill Pelosi and Mnuchin are negotiating would cost significantly more than the two Senate bills.

Pelosi’s bill would come in at around $2.2 trillion. Mnuchin has countered with a bill that would cost $1.8 trillion.

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he was ready to sign a bill that matched Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion in spending, or even go higher than that.

“I want a bigger number than she wants,” Trump said of Pelosi during a campaign stop Sunday in Reno, Nevada. “That doesn’t mean all the Republicans agree with me, but I think they will in the end.”