U.S. Speaker Pelosi says differences remain on testing language in coronavirus relief

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduces legislation to create 25th Amendment commission during news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her plans for Congress to create a “Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office Act,” after U.S. President Donald Trump came down with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, U.S., October 9, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

October 18, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday differences remain with President Donald Trump’s administration on a wide-ranging coronavirus relief package but she was optimistic legislation could be pushed through before Election Day.

Pelosi, the top elected Democrat, said she wanted a bill passed before the Nov. 3 presidential election between Republican Trump and Democrat Joe Biden but acknowledged an agreement would have to come within 48 hours for that to happen.

“I’m optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this,” Pelosi said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

However, with her negotiating partner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in the Middle East until Tuesday, a deal appears to be a long shot.

The White House proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus last week to help Americans struggling with the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. Pelosi said the offer fell short in a range of areas including tax credits for poor people, aid to state and local governments, worker protections and rent help. She has stuck to her demand for a $2.2 trillion aid and stimulus package.

The Republicans who control the Senate, however, are loath to pass another giant relief bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote next week on relief measures totaling more than $500 billion to target specific areas of need. Democrats have rejected so-called skinny bills with pared-down funding, saying much more is needed.

After Mnuchin said last week the White House broadly accepted Democrats’ language on testing, it was clear the devil was in the details.

“They took out 55% of the language that we had there for testing and tracing. And the tracing part is so important because communities of color had been disproportionately affected by this,” Pelosi said on ABC.

“We don’t have agreement on the language yet. But I’m hopeful.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Matthew Lewis)

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