House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested Friday that Trump’s diagnosis could help negotiators reach agreement on another coronavirus relief package. “This kind of changes the dynamic because here they see the reality of what we have been saying all along — this is a vicious virus,” Pelosi said on MSNBC. “I’m optimistic. I’m always optimistic. We always have to find a path. That is our responsibility to do so. And I believe that we will.”
Pelosi spoke by phone with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for just over an hour and the two will continue discussions, according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff. In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi outlined several areas where negotiators still have what she called “significant disagreements,” including unemployment insurance; aid to state and local governments and schools; the Earned Income and Child tax credits; and funding for testing and tracing.
“We are expecting a response from the White House on these areas and others with more detail,” Pelosi wrote. “In the meantime, we continue to work on the text to move quickly to facilitate an agreement.”
With the pace of talks accelerating, Pelosi also called on airlines to delay announced furloughs of thousands of workers. In a major shift, the speaker said that a $25 billion, six-month extension of federal payroll support for airlines would be passed as a standalone bill if negotiators don’t reach a broader deal. Some Republicans objected Friday to an attempt to pass a standalone payroll support measure under unanimous consent.
Many Republicans also remain opposed to another large relief bill and leaders from the conservative groups Americans for Prosperity, R Street, the Libre Initiative and Heritage Action held a conference call Friday urging lawmakers to reject a deal, according to The Washington Post. “We are very concerned about any possible deal at this point,” said Tim Phillips, president of American for Prosperity. “We are urging Congress: ‘Do not do another spending deal.’”