Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Sunday that the Trump Administration has until Tuesday night to reach a stimulus deal with the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
The House Speaker made the statement during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend. Whether a stimulus deal gets done “depends on the administration,” the Pelosi said. However, she tempered the statement by adding that the deadline “only relates to if we want to get it done before the election.”
Stimulus negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have been at an impasse for weeks. This remains despite several increasingly accommodative proposals from the White House. The Trump Administration’s most recent proposal offered $1.88 trillion for a stimulus deal. However, Senate Republicans seem to favor a smaller relief package. The deal comes just $320 billion short of the stimulus bill passed by House Democrats several weeks ago. Although, Pelosi turned down the offer yet again.
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The White House’s lead negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, met with Pelosi on Saturday. However, Pelosi’s spokesperson still said the two sides had an array of differences to work through.
The contentious stimulus talks stays particularly divided on two issues: funding for state and local governments, and liability protection for businesses.
Pelosi has been eager to drum up as much as a half-trillion dollars to support local governments. Republicans, on the other hand, argue that these mostly liberal-leaning cities have been financially mismanaged for years. Critics say the Democrats are using the pandemic as an excuse to bailout these fiscally irresponsible municipalities. Also, some wonder why the money should be directed towards governments with a long track record of operation inefficiencies instead of struggling small businesses and households.
The money would also probably go towards covering the cost of recent riots. These riots have caused millions of dollars in property damage. However, the same liberal governments refused to deploy law enforcement resources to contain the unrest. It’s unclear why federal money should go to city governments who willfully allowed rampant violence and vandalism in their cities.
On the other hand, the Democrats are blocking a Republican effort to pass liability protection for businesses. These conditions would prevent predatory lawsuits against businesses for COVID-19 related issues. For example, under the liability protection law, a patron couldn’t sue a restaurant because he ate there and later contracted COVID-19.
Many small business owners believe liability protection is crucial to a full-scale recovery. Additionally, they feel scared to open their doors without such legal protections in place. Most business insurance policies wouldn’t cover these types of claims. Many fear that a predatory legal environment could develop between ‘ambulance chaser’ lawyers and COVID-19 patients. There, the lack of legal protection could be exploited into a shadow economy of frivolous negligence lawsuits.
However, Democrats say the Republican liability protection proposal would prevent workers from taking action against unsafe workplaces. They’ve also repeatedly pushed to remove this stipulation from the stimulus plan.
One of the earlier issues weighing down talks was plans for a national testing program. Although, the White House eventually agreed to a modified version of the Democrats’ proposal. However, Pelosi accused the White House of using loose language in the proposal and leaving too much up to state governments.
President Trump says he is eager to sign a stimulus check, so it’s unclear who Pelosi is challenging with her ultimatum. Dozens of House Democrats have expressed support for the latest stimulus deal, but many D.C. insiders say Pelosi is the one holding up the deal.
From an outside perspective, it seems the White House has been much more accommodative to the Democratic position than the other way around. Pelosi sees these negotiations as an opportunity to funnel taxpayer money into her legislative agenda, and she’s willing to let the country burn while she waits for what she wants.
The House Speaker is betting the Democrats will get a favorable result at the ballot box, so she thinks she has the upper hand. However, she might be in for a rude awakening when the votes are finally in.
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