- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made some progress during their latest coronavirus stimulus talks, according to Pelosi's office.
- They plan to speak again Tuesday about a relief bill, ahead of a deadline Pelosi set to reach an agreement before the 2020 election.
- Senate Republicans, who plan to vote on a more narrow aid bill this week, could oppose a possible agreement Pelosi and Mnuchin reach.
In a nearly one-hour phone call, the pair "continued to narrow their differences," the California Democrat's spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a tweeted statement. Pelosi has directed House committee chairs to work to resolve areas of disagreement with the White House, and the speaker and Mnuchin plan to talk again Tuesday, Hammill added.
"The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election," he said.
The Trump administration and Democratic leaders have scrambled to strike a coronavirus stimulus deal before the Nov. 3 election. On Sunday, Pelosi set a 48-hour deadline to reach an agreement — even as the sides appeared far apart on a handful of key issues.
Writing to House Democrats on Sunday, the speaker said she is "optimistic that we can reach agreement before the election." Pelosi added that "we are writing [legislative] language" as talks continue, "so that we are fully prepared to move forward once we reach agreement."
She highlighted several lingering disputes, including a national testing strategy and state and local government relief. Pelosi also cited tax credit expansion, child-care provisions and support for the U.S. Census as areas of disagreement.
Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin can forge a deal, Senate Republicans will pose an obstacle to passing it. Most GOP lawmakers have backed only limited new spending to respond to the virus outbreak as they embrace a rosier view of the economy than Democrats have.
The Senate GOP plans to vote on a roughly $500 billion aid package as soon as Wednesday. Earlier Monday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had agreed to bring a potential bipartisan bill to the Senate floor "and actually have a vote."
Asked about Meadows' comment, a McConnell spokesman pointed to a statement the Senate leader issued over the weekend. He said that, "if Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the Administration, the Senate would of course consider it."
House Democrats most recently passed a $2.2 trillion bill, while the White House has put forward a nearly $1.9 trillion proposal.
Congress has failed for months to approve new coronavirus aid as new U.S. Covid-19 infections hit levels unseen in months and the economy inches back from devastating shutdowns.