Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding her weekly press conference Thursday, afterthat the bipartisan group of lawmakers engaged in negotiations over a coronavirus relief bill are nearing a deal.
Pelosi said that she had “great respect” for the bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers engaged in negotiations over a $908 billion relief proposal. A six-page summary of the framework obtained by CBS News does not include specifics on liability protections for companies and institutions whose workers get COVID-19 and aid to state and local governments, two of the major sticking points in negotiations.
However, this framework is not a concrete bill, and lawmakers remain divided over the scale and scope of a relief package. Time is running out for Congress to pass any relief proposal, as it also must negotiate and approve an omnibus government funding bill before December 18 to avert a government shutdown.
Although Pelosi had previously been unwilling to consider legislation below $2 trillion, she said that there was now a “completely changed dynamic” with the looming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and the development of a vaccine. Pelosi said she was now willing to consider a smaller package because of these two factors, adding that negotiations would continue next year.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday that he had spoken to Speaker Nancy Pelosi this evening and made a $916 billion offer for a relief bill. But Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it “must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway.” They also rejected part of the White House proposal — a reduction in unemployment insurance funding from $180 billion to $40 billion. “That is unacceptable,” they wrote.
Schumer and Pelosi also condemned the suggestion by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Congress drop the most controversial items from any coronavirus package to be picked up again at the beginning of the year.
Nearly 290,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and more than 15 million have contracted COVID-19. Pelosi on Thursday compared the death toll to the number of combat deaths during World War II, when more than 291,000 Americans died.