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Stimulus update: Pelosi says a deal could be near, but a vote may not come until after the election

October 21, 2020, 6:09 PM UTC

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The White House and Democratic leaders are nearing an agreement for another broad stimulus package that would include items such as another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits.

“I’m pretty happy. I think we have a prospect for an agreement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC on Wednesday. (Update: The two sides did not strike a stimulus deal on Wednesday. The White House and Democratic leaders will meet again on Thursday.)

After her MSNBC remarks, Pelosi met with White House officials in an attempt to iron out the final price tag and further details. She had said on MSNBC that she was hopeful they could resolve the “appropriations piece.” As of Tuesday, Democratic leaders are asking for $2.2 trillion, while the White House has offered just under $1.9 trillion.

If a deal is struck, it doesn’t guarantee passage. A number of Senate Republicans have already voiced objection to the size of the package, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told the White House on Tuesday not to accept Pelosi’s bill before the election.

McConnell has also notably kept his language vague in terms of when a bill might be passed: He told reporters Tuesday that if a bill was agreed upon, the Senate would put it on the floor “at some point.” Senate Republicans took up their own $500 billion stimulus bill on Wednesday, but Democrats blocked it from advancing.

Speaker Pelosi, however, is optimistic about a compromise. “There will be a bill,” she said. “The question is, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive?” Pelosi noted that Senate Republicans may pose a roadblock, saying on SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show earlier Wednesday that “I think Mitch McConnell might not mind doing it after the election.”

For months the White House and Democratic leaders have butted heads on the dollar size of the package: Democrats want billions more in aid for state and local governments, a point that appears to still be up for debate. Additionally, Republicans’ support for COVID-19 lawsuit immunity for businesses and schools has generated Democratic opposition.

Meanwhile, there is bipartisan support for other items. Both parties have reaffirmed support for a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks. Both parties support more funding for education, coronavirus-related projects, mortgage and rental assistance, and food programs. When it comes to enhanced unemployment benefits, the White House would prefer $400 per week compared with House Democrats’ proposal of $600 per week.

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