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Pelosi, Mnuchin talk on stimulus as McConnell sets up vote

Bloomberg October 18 | Updated on October 18, 2020 Published on October 18, 2020

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a lengthy talk on Saturday night about efforts to craft a stimulus package to help the US economy weather the impact of the coronavirus.

The pair spoke for a hour and 15 minutes, and have agreed to speak again on Monday, Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said in a tweet. Their respective staff will keep discussions going in the meantime.

“While there was some encouraging news on testing, 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 colour,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, said in a tweet. There remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours.

Before those talks, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will vote on Republican proposals for a roughly $500 billion economic recovery bill and additional funding to aid small businesses, starting Tuesday.

The votes, essentially one-chamber messaging, will underscore the continued deep differences after months of talks on another stimulus bill that have failed to bridge gaps between President Donald Trumps administration, House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

McConnell, who previously said the Senate would take action during the week of October 19, spelled out schedule details on Saturday. A standalone vote on more funds for the Paycheck Protection Program will be held on Tuesday, followed by the main relief bill on Wednesday, he said in a statement.

Republicans have tried numerous times to secure bipartisan agreement where possible and get aid out the door while these endless talks continue, said McConnell, blaming Pelosi for the aid impasse. Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break this logjam.

McConnell has raised his own objection to any deal -- the amount. Trump said on Thursday he was prepared to go above the $1.8 trillion his team had been trying to offer to Pelosi, who favours a $2.2 trillion plan. “He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said on Thursday of Trump’s latest position.

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Published on October 18, 2020
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