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House Speaker Pelosi ‘optimistic’ on coronavirus relief deal before U.S. election

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday differences remain with President Donald Trump’s administration on a wide-ranging coronavirus relief package but she was optimistic legislation could be pushed through before Election Day.

Pelosi, the top elected Democrat, said she wanted a bill passed before the Nov. 3 presidential election between Republican Trump and Democrat Joe Biden but acknowledged an agreement would have to come within 48 hours for that to happen.

“I’m optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this,” Pelosi said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

However, with her negotiating partner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in the Middle East until Tuesday, a deal appears to be a long shot.

The White House proposed a $1.8 trillion stimulus last week to help Americans struggling with the economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. Pelosi said the offer fell short in a range of areas including tax credits for poor people, aid to state and local governments, worker protections and rent help. She has stuck to her demand for a $2.2 trillion aid and stimulus package.

The Republicans who control the Senate, however, are loath to pass another giant relief bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote on Wednesday on a pared-down $500 billion proposal to target specific areas of need.

Democrats have rejected so-called skinny bills with pared-down funding, saying much more is needed.

“We have to see what he brings to the floor. But Democrats have worked on this for months. Mitch McConnell hasn’t even been part of the negotiations,” Senator Chris Coons told CNN.

After Mnuchin said last week the White House broadly accepted Democrats’ language on testing, Pelosi said the White House removed 55% of the language on testing.

“It has become clear that these changes are not a light touch but instead, a deep dive,” Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers on Sunday.

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