House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the House will stay in session until a breakthrough is made on a coronavirus stimulus bill, while moderate lawmakers pressed leaders to come up with a relief deal before the November elections.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC Tuesday.
Her words signaled relief talks between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump’s White House may be salvaged even though the two sides don’t appear any closer to an agreement.
Pelosi hasn’t budged on her desire for a sweeping multi-trillion-dollar plan for aid to schools, the unemployed and cash-strapped local governments. And Republican leadership didn’t appear any more open to recent Democratic proposals on Tuesday.
“We’re willing to sit down with the Democrats and try to reach an agreement. Clearly, we’re not going to spend 3.4 trillion or 2.4 trillion or 2.2 trillion, which are the various numbers that the Speaker has laid out as potential,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at a weekly news conference. “I still hope we’ll be able to get there. It’s been disappointing that it’s taken this long. But there’s still a need.”
After passing a series of bills totaling to help blunt the impact of COVID-19, congressional leaders and the White House have so far been unable to find a new bipartisan compromise on another batch of aid for unemployed Americans, schools and businesses.
Top Democrats and White House negotiators spent weeks attempting to broker a deal, only leading to both sides digging in their heels and blaming one another for the prolonged impasse. Democrats have pushed for a bill topping $3 trillion, while Senate Republicans last week attempted to pass a slimmed-down bill that totaled about $300 billion.
The failed effort in the Senate left members of both parties expressing little hope coronavirus legislation would pass before the election.
Both chambers are only in session for several weeks before they again will go on a lengthy break in October ahead of the election, leaving little time to discuss COVID-19 relief and also take up must-pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.