Nancy Pelosi outlines gaps in coronavirus talks: 'One step forward, two steps back'

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined several areas of disagreement in the White House’s latest offer for a stimulus deal on Saturday.

In a Dear Colleague letter, Mrs. Pelosi said the $1.8 trillion proposal delivered by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on Friday still isn’t meeting all of the priorities Democrats want for a comprehensive deal.

“This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back,” she wrote. “When the President talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold, rather than agreeing on language prescribing how we honor our workers, crush the virus and put money in the pockets of workers.”

She said that there are ongoing conversations with the administration on both policy issues and the overall topline number for a deal.

As it was on Friday, Mrs. Pelosi remains concerned that the White House’s plan does not include a “strategic plan to crush the virus” and funding for state and local governments.

In her letter to Democrats, she noted that they’re still in disagreement over whether or not to include the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and a Child Dependent Care Tax Credit. She also accused Republicans of pursuing a business tax cut for the “wealthiest people.”

Additionally, she said the White House is not budging on $25 billion for child care, compared to the Democrats’ $57 billion ask. The two remain at odds on how much enhanced unemployment benefits should be, with Democrats insisting it should stay at $600 a week in their last offer and Republicans at $400 a week.

“Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday’s developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America’s families,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “As I have said before, the devil and the angels are in the details.”

White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said the administration was willing to continue negotiations but stressed they want to stay below $2 trillion.

Back in July, Senate Republicans didn’t entirely rally around the $1 trillion GOP proposal endorsed by the White House, and the administration’s offer is already well above that line.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains skeptical that a deal can be reached before election day with partisanship rising and his chamber focused on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” he said in Kentucky this week.

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