Coronavirus stimulus checks: Pelosi, Mnuchin closing in on agreement

Coronavirus stimulus negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still very much on track. In fact, the two had productive talks on Monday on the Coronavirus stimulus package and checks, and will speak again on Tuesday to try to reach an agreement. Pelosi’s 48-hour deadline is also set to expire Tuesday.

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Coronavirus stimulus checks: Can Pelosi, Mnuchin reach agreement?

On Monday, Pelosi and Mnuchin talked for about an hour on the phone and continued to “narrow their differences,” Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a tweet. The spokesman said that Pelosi had asked the House committee chairs to resolve issues with the White House.

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"The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election," Hammill said.

President Donald Trump and Pelosi now have less than two weeks to strike a deal, as well as get it approved by the House and Senate. Pelosi, on Sunday, set a 48-hour deadline for the Trump administration to reach an agreement on the stimulus package.

After setting the deadline, Pelosi informed the House Democrats that she is optimistic on reaching an “agreement before the election." Further, she said that "we are writing [legislative] language" as negotiations continue, "so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement."

Pelosi also informed about the sticking points, mainly a national testing strategy and aid to state and local governments. The two sides also have differences over tax credit expansion, child-care provisions, as well as support for the U.S. Census.

Though Pelosi recently admitted that the two sides agreed on the language for a national COVID-19 testing plan, she said the work still needs to be done on additional measures.

McConnell needs to get on board as well

Talking about the current status of the stimulus package, Pelosi is asking for a package costing $2.2 trillion, while the latest offer from the White House is of $1.8 trillion. Trump recently hinted about raising the offer, in order to reach a deal before the November election.

Even if the White House and Pelosi do reach an agreement, the package still needs to pass the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has already said that he won’t bring such a proposal onto the Senate floor.

“My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go," he said.

McConnell, instead, has scheduled to vote on two targeted relief packages. On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on refunding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). And, on Wednesday, the vote will be on the same $500 bill, which was blocked by Democrats last month. This bill includes unemployment benefits, coronavirus liability protections, and funding for schools.

Separately, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted a motion to adjourn the Senate until after the election with a provision to come back in case of a bipartisan agreement on a coronavirus relief package. However, the plan didn’t succeed as lawmakers voted 48-42 against the motion.