Talks between the speaker and White House over a coronavirus relief package have remained at an impasse for months, though Pelosi said Tuesday that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are “on a path” to a deal. But a larger relief agreement has met resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate, where some Republicans have blanched at a multi-trillion dollar price tag.
“Many of those senators are real concerned with some of the policy differences that we have, in addition to the money,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, told Fox News after meeting Wednesday with Senate Republicans.
The California Democrat said she has been buoyed by recent progress made between House Democrats and the White House, but several issues remain outstanding with less than two weeks until Election Day.
“We’re in a better place than we have been,” she said. “None of it is insurmountable if you want to make a decision.”
But Meadows tossed cold water on the possibility of striking a deal in the lame duck session and said “at some point speaker Pelosi has to take yes for an answer.”
“I don’t think our chances get better after election,” Meadows said. “I think the next 24 to 48 hours will tell us a whole lot.”
The speaker said that “it’s up to” President Donald Trump — who has said he wants a relief package with a higher price tag than the $2.2 trillion proposal Democrats are pushing — to cajole members of his party and get the eventual agreement over the finish line.
“I wouldn’t even be having these discussions if we didn’t think the president had some sway as to whether the Senate would take this legislation up,” she said. Senate Democrats on Wednesday also blocked a narrow, $500 billion GOP-pushed Covid-19 relief package from moving forward in the upper chamber, essentially dismissing it as a political stunt.
Pelosi’s comments echoed those she made earlier in the day on Sirius XM, in which she said “the president needs this legislation.”
“We obviously want to have a deal by Nov. 3,” she said. “That really is going to be up to whether the president can convince Mitch McConnell to do so.”