Pelosi, Trump trade blame on COVID-19 stimulus talks; Senate Republicans on sidelines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday it still was possible to get another round of COVID-19 aid before the Nov. 3 election, but that it was up to President Donald Trump to act, including bringing along reluctant Senate Republicans.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about the need for additional coronavirus relief during her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters in Washington, U.S., October 22, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin countered that Pelosi must compromise to get an aid package, saying significant differences remained between the Republican administration and Democrats.

“Now we’re talking and we’ll see what happens but at this moment I would say that I actually think Nancy would rather wait ‘til after the election,” Trump told reporters in an Oval Office appearance together with Mnuchin.

“If she wants to compromise, there will be a deal,” Mnuchin said.

Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, was expected to resume negotiations at some point with Mnuchin, as the two sides try to reach a deal that could be worth around $2 trillion before the presidential and congressional election.

But Senate Republicans are skeptical of a possible deal costing trillions of dollars. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, does not want to bring a large bill to the Senate floor before the election,

Congress has already appropriated $3 trillion in relief, including money for the unemployed and for small businesses. But no money has gone out the door since the spring, and members of both parties say more is needed now.

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Pelosi, in an interview on MSNBC, said differences could still be resolved.

“We could do that before the election if the president wants to,” she said. “He (Trump) has to talk to the Senate Republicans.”

At the White House, Mnuchin said there had been lots of progress but “significant differences remained” between himself and Pelosi, while Trump reiterated that he did not support more federal financial aid for U.S. states and cities run by Democrats.

“She wants to bail out poorly run Democrat states – they’re poorly run both in terms of crime and in terms of economics. And we just don’t want that. We want COVID related,” Trump said.

The speaker and Mnuchin did not talk on Thursday. She told reporters Thursday she was waiting to receive some guidance on outstanding issues from chairs of congressional committees.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network on Friday that Republicans who lead the relevant committees in the U.S. Senate and their Democratic counterparts who lead U.S. House panels were continuing to talk.

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