Politics

A stimulus deal earlier than election day is much less doubtless as Pelosi pushes Mnuchin over virus testing

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi gutted the Trump administration on Monday as Washington failed to provide further relief to Americans during a record surge in coronavirus cases.

The California Democrat's pungent letter to the House Democrats came just minutes before an hour-long conversation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that appeared to have made little progress on the road to a business cycle agreement. The chances of Congress passing an aid bill before Election Day, November 3, are all but gone.

Pelosi targeted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for saying on Sunday, "We will not control the pandemic." She also said the Trump administration did not accept House Democrats' proposal for a national testing strategy, despite Mnuchin announcing it during a CNBC interview earlier this month.

"The Republicans' continued surrender to the virus – particularly in the recent wave of falls – is official misconduct," Pelosi wrote. She said she expected a White House response "to several concerns" during the conversation on Monday.

"We have to come to an agreement as soon as possible," the spokesman wrote.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the United States, on October 9, 2020.

Ting Shen | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

After Pelosi's phone call to Mnuchin, her spokesman, Drew Hammill, tweeted: "We are still waiting eagerly for the government to adopt our health language." He added that it is "clear that our progress depends on the [Senate majority] chairman [Mitch] McConnell approving bipartisan, comprehensive legislation."

"The spokesman remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached before the election," he continued.

White House spokesmen and McConnell did not immediately respond to CNBC's request to comment on Pelosi's letter.

The sites have not approved any new aid for months, despite rising infection rates and signs of a slowing economic recovery. Democrats have accused the White House of failing to understand the gravity of the crisis, while Republicans have argued that Pelosi refuses to compromise.

Democrats and the White House recently proposed aid packages of $ 2.2 trillion and $ 1.9 trillion, respectively. Despite the similar target prices for the legislation, the sites have not yet resolved disputes over testing, additional unemployment insurance, state and local authorities, and corporate liability coverage, among other things.

The GOP-held Senate is expected to adjourn until after the election after Monday's vote to approve Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. To show that the two issues can be reconciled, Republicans attempted last week to push their roughly $ 500 billion aid proposal. Democrats blocked it, calling the plan inadequate.

Congressional committee chairs recently worked on writing potential laws. Legislators, however, were not particularly optimistic about the prospect of an early deal.

Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, R-Ala., Has told reporters over the past few days that the chances of an aid contract before the election are slim.

It could prove difficult to create laws that can pass both the Democratic House and the GOP-controlled Senate in the Lame Duck session before the winners take office in January. Republicans have refused to spend trillions more on virus response, while Democrats want a comprehensive package to eradicate the pandemic and the economic damage it has caused.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump continues to downplay the severity of the pandemic despite a one-day record of more than 80,000 new cases on Friday. In a tweet on Monday he called the staggering number of infections "Fake News Media Conspiracy".

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