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Pelosi expects an economic aid deal with Mnuchin and says the Trump diagnosis is changing the dynamic.



“I’m optimistic, I’m always optimistic,” she said. “We always have to find a way that we are responsible for and I believe we will.”

White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told reporters on Friday that Trump made inquiries about the state of the talks this morning, just hours after the president announced his positive coronavirus test.

Separately, Pelosi released a statement urging airlines to postpone the upcoming vacation days of tens of thousands of workers whose jobs are at risk because the payroll included in the Cares Act expired on September 30th. Pelosi said a six-month extension to the payroll program would be included in a deal or passed as a standalone invoice.

Pelosi is in the midst of intensifying negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over a new stimulus package that would cost between $ 1

.6 trillion and $ 2.2 trillion.

Mnuchin and Pelosi conducted most of their negotiations by phone, but they met extensively in person on Wednesday. After Trump reported his positive coronavirus diagnosis early Friday, Mnuchin reported negative tests and called Pelosi to inform them of that result, Pelosi said.

The spokeswoman said she was tested “out of caution” on Friday morning but has not yet received the result.

After the bipartisan talks collapsed in early August, the prospects for a new economic agreement before the elections were bleak despite persistently high unemployment. But negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin resumed this week and appeared to be getting serious, even as House Democrats approved their own $ 2.2 trillion bill without GOP support late Thursday.

The house is slated to pause Friday through the election, but lawmakers could be called back to vote on a deal if there is one.

Several items were agreed, including a new round of checks worth $ 1,200 for individuals. Pelosi said they were nearing a $ 75 billion deal for coronavirus testing and tracking. The Democrats pressed for language to ensure a comprehensive testing strategy.

Other key items remained open, including state and local benefits, unemployment insurance, a child tax credit, and more. Pelosi’s comments indicated that the talks were detailed when she described how she called for $ 144 billion for part of the legislation that addressed a variety of expense items including agriculture and transit assistance. She added the government was trying to bring that number down to $ 100 billion.

White House officials also called for a deal. Trump administration officials have pushed for a stimulus package much more aggressively in recent days, both amid weak Trump approval numbers and signs of weakness in the U.S. economy.

Mnuchin said Friday he would inform the president later in the day for information about the Covid-19 negotiations. He said parts of the economy “need more help,” especially restaurants and other hard-hit industries.

On Fox Business, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow was optimistic about the chances of a stimulus package and suggested approving additional support for small businesses and the unemployed.

“Would you rather have zero or would you rather have everything you want? There has to be compromise in life, ”said Kudlow.

Two people who have spoken to senior administration officials in the past few weeks and provided anonymity to share details of private conversations said the White House is pushing harder in part because Trump is lagging behind in the polls.

“The people in the administration were frightened. Trump did not rise in the polls and that gave a boost to a negotiated deal,” one of them said.

In the early days of the spring pandemic, Congress rushed to pass four bipartisan bills that totaled an unprecedented $ 3 trillion. Many of the programs approved at the time have run their course, but with the upcoming elections tensions between the partisans have increased and Congress has not acted since.

Some Conservatives, including a sizable minority of Senate Republicans, argue that Congress has already spent enough money and no further action is needed given the widening budget deficit.

On Friday morning, leaders of the conservative groups Americans for Wealth, R Street, Libre Initiative and Heritage Action took part in a conference call calling on lawmakers to reject any agreement.

“We are very concerned about a possible deal at this time,” said Tim Phillips, president of American for Prosperity. “We urge Congress: ‘Don’t make another spending contract.'”


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