House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), during a press briefing Thursday, sharply criticized the Trump administration for its delay in negotiating the next tranche of federal coronavirus aid, in particular regarding the White House’s refusal to accept the national testing and tracing proposed by the Democrats plan.
Hopes for a pre-election stimulus deal – let alone the actual provision of additional aid – have evaporated over the past two weeks, despite months of negotiations.
On Thursday morning, Pelosi released a letter she sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is negotiating the next relief package on behalf of the Trump administration.
The letter details seven areas in which Pelosi’s Democratic caucus is still awaiting responses from the administration: a national Covid-19 screening and screening plan, state and local aid, funding for schools, funding child care, changes to certain tax credits, federal unemployment insurance and liability protections for workers.
These major outstanding issues suggest that Pelosi and Mnuchin have never been closer to a deal than either has suggested, despite continued messages of optimism from both sides over the past few weeks and month.
“We are in a terrible place,” Pelosi said at the briefing, responding to a question about whether she should be more flexible in working with Senate Republicans on a deal in the event of a lame session . She suggested that virus provisions in the Republican offers so far, and in the White House offer, have been insufficient to meet the country’s needs during the pandemic. “It was a decision taken by this President of the United States,” she continued. “So we must have enough money to [Covid-19 testing, tracing, and treatment], and we still haven’t got the rest of the White House on this.
On Thursday morning, the Commerce Department released new data showing the economy likely grew 7.4% in the third quarter (or 33.1% on an annualized basis), against losses of 9.5% (or 31.4% annualized) in the second quarter. When asked if Trump could be credited for the boost, Pelosi replied that “the CARES law deserves to be commended for this. She was referring to the $ 2.2 trillion economic stimulus package – the largest in American history – that lawmakers passed in the spring with overwhelming bipartisan support. The CARES act included unemployment insurance, small business assistance, direct payments to individuals and other measures that economists say are responsible for staving off major economic damage in the spring and summer. The third quarter gains account for about two-thirds of the economic losses caused by the pandemic, meaning that while some progress has been made towards the recovery, there is still a long way to go. Further recovery in the fourth quarter is far from guaranteed and will be threatened by an alarming rise in new virus cases and the potential for further lockdown measures. Experts generally agree that another bailout bill is needed to support the recovery.
“Our team now believes the President has no intention of compromising on key issues,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News’ Sandra Smith Thursday morning. “It will retain key assistance, such as PPP assistance to small businesses and unemployment assistance. She chains us in and basically we think there is hardly any hope for these tests.
In an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, Pelosi said she hoped the recent fall in the stock market would encourage President Trump, who has long touted the stock market as an indicator of his administration’s economic success, to return to the table. negotiations after the elections. As coronavirus cases increase in the country and the prospect of increased federal aid fades, stocks are on track for their worst week since March.
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