Washington — As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows prepare to speak Thursday afternoon amid the ongoing impasse on the next coronavirus relief measure, Pelosi signaled that an agreement on a legislative package still remains out of reach.
The California Democrat told reporters during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol that the planned phone call with Meadows “could be a very short conversation if they’re not ready to meet in the middle.”
“We’re not budging. Understand this: they have to move,” she said. “Why should there be a bill that has far less than what the public needs? We have that responsibility. They’re just going to have to come up with more money.”
Pelosi also forgot Meadows’ name and said he is “not even the lead negotiator,” which would be Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“We consider, whatever his name is, Meadows here staffing Mr. Mnuchin,” she said. Before President Trump selected Meadows as his next White House chief of staff in March, he served in the House, resigning his seat before officially assuming his new role.
Discussions on the next coronavirus aid package stalled earlier this month after Democratic leaders and the White House were unable to reach consensus on the size and scope of the next measure. House Democrats in May approved a sweeping $3 trillion package, while Senate Republicans unveiled a more targeted measure that cost $1 trillion in July. Democratic negotiators said they would lower the cost of their plan by $1 trillion if Republicans upped theirs to $1 trillion, bringing the price tag of another economic aid measure to around $2 trillion. But Meadows and Mnuchin declined.
With no signs of the logjam breaking, members of the House and Senate returned to their home districts and are not set to be back in Washington for legislative business until after Labor Day. Mr. Trump also took unilateral action with four measures designed to provide economic relief to Americans reeling from the coronavirus crisis.
Meadows told Politico in an interview Tuesday he is “not optimistic” the two sides will be able to reach a deal on the next aid package before the end of September and predicted Pelosi will attempt to use a must-pass government spending bill as leverage in negotiations.
The House speaker, meanwhile, said that while a “flood of money” is needed to address the economic harms wrought by the pandemic, Republicans are “coming in with an eyedropper.”
“Are you willing to meet in the middle?” she said. “If so, we can have a conversation. If not, I’ve returned your call.”
Published at Thu, 27 Aug 2020 16:25:45 +0000-Pelosi, set to discuss COVID bill with Meadows, signals deal remains far off