Pelosi 'remains optimistic' about COVID-19 relief package before Election Day
WASHINGTON - Despite failing on Monday to come to an agreement on a coronavirus stimulus package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "remains optimistic" that a deal with the White House can be reached before Election Day, according to a negotiation update from Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill.
Hammill said that the speaker continues to "eagerly await" the Trump administration’s acceptance of Democrats' health language, including a national strategic plan on testing and contact tracing.
"We are hopeful their response will be positive as we also await the outcomes of talks between committee chairs," Hamill said. "It is clear that our progress depends on Leader McConnell agreeing to bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to crush the virus, honor our heroes – our essential workers – and put money in the pockets of the American people. The Speaker remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached before the election."
But the chances for a deal to be struck before Election Day are slim. There are just eight days before the presidential election.
RELATED: Pelosi says coronavirus relief agreement 'could happen' this week, accuses Republicans of moving goalposts
In a statement on Monday, Pelosi said a national plan for testing, tracing, treatment, mask-wearing, social distancing and other science-based steps are essential to "crush the virus and combat the disparities facing communities of color" and that without it, the country will not be able to safely reopen our schools and economy.
"In all of our legislation, we have stressed the importance of testing, but the Administration has never followed through," Pelosi said. "The Republicans’ continued surrender to the virus – particularly amid the recent wave of cases – is official malfeasance. We must come to agreement as soon as possible. But we cannot accept the Administration’s refusal to crush the virus, honor our heroes or put money in the pockets of the American people...It is a matter of life-or-death, and Democrats are deadly serious about the responsibility we face."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on October 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi spoke about the latest coronavirus stimulus bill that did not pass in the Senate yesterday. (Photo by S
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that both sides have narrowed their differences on key aspects of the package, but negotiators have still not solved two of the most contentious issues: state and local funding and liability protections for businesses.
"They still haven't completely signed off on it," Pelosi said. "But I think we're just about there."
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell emerged as a hurdle in negotiations, privately urging the White House not to settle with Pelosi before the election amid concerns it could interfere with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, two sources told Fox News on Wednesday.
McConnell brought a targeted $500 billion relief bill to the Senate floor last week, a significantly lower option than the $1.8 trillion offer from the White House. Senate Democrats blocked the bill, however, which would have expanded unemployment benefits, extended the Paycheck Protection Program and provided aid to hospitals and schools.
According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 8.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and more than 225,000 related deaths.
Fox Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report. Get updates on this story from foxbusiness.com.