Pelosi Flags Poison Pills in Stimulus Talks; A test deal close to Bloomberg

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(Bloomberg) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told fellow Democrats that a rift persists with the White House over a number of components of the fiscal stimulus it is trying to negotiate, even as it approaches agreement on a coronavirus screening program.

Establishing a national testing strategy had been an obstacle cited by Pelosi and colleagues this week during discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

After a call lasting more than an hour on Thursday, Mnuchin said the administration would only make minor changes to a Democratic proposal on this point. The documents are expected to be exchanged on Friday.

“Many other disagreements remain,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday evening. “These include, but are not limited to, state and local government funding, tax benefits for working families, support for vulnerable small businesses, and funding for child care centers.”

She also cited several so-called poison pills, “including their sweeping liability provision which requires workers to risk their lives in dangerous workplaces without legal recourse.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been a strong advocate for corporate liability protections to protect them from coronavirus lawsuits when they reopen.

McConnell raised his own major obstacle to any deal: size. President Donald Trump said Thursday he was ready to go beyond the $ 1.8 trillion his team had tried to offer Pelosi, who is in favor of a $ 2.2 trillion plan .

Republican roadblock

“He’s talking about a much larger amount than I can sell to my members,” McConnell said Thursday of Trump’s latest position.

The Treasury chief told Pelosi that Trump would weigh in with McConnell if a deal goes through. Trump himself has said of Republicans in the Senate, “They will go. I did not ask them the question “because there is no agreement yet.

Mnuchin is expected to visit the Middle East in the coming days, adding to signs that a pre-election stimulus deal will not be reached – although both sides have pledged to continue working on it.

Details of the emerging test deal have not been released. Pelosi and the House Democrats demanded $ 75 billion for what they described as “a national scientific plan for testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, and for the fair and ethical distribution of a safe and effective vaccine once developed ”.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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