Pelosi: COVID-19 aid possible before election but up to Trump to corral Senate Republicans

·2-min read
U.S. House Speaker Pelosi holdsnews conference on Capitol Hill in Washington
U.S. House Speaker Pelosi holdsnews conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it still was possible to get another round of COVID-19 aid before the Nov. 3 election, but that it was up to President Donald Trump to act, including talking to reluctant Senate Republicans, if he wants it.

Pelosi, in an interview on MSNBC, said that she hoped the Trump administration was on the verge of accepting language aimed at tackling the novel coronavirus pandemic and that she was still optimistic an agreement could be reached.

"We could do that before the election if the president wants to," she said of resolving differences between Democrats and the White House and Republicans in Congress.

Trump "has to talk to the Senate Republicans," she said.

Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, was expected to resume negotiations at some point with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as the two sides try to reach a deal that could be worth around $2 trillion before the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional election.

But Senate Republicans are skeptical of a possible deal costing trillions of dollars. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, does not want to bring a large bill to the Senate floor before the election,

The speaker and Mnuchin did not talk on Thursday. She told reporters Thursday she was waiting to receive some guidance on outstanding issues from chairs of congressional committees.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Friday said he did not want to predict if or when a deal could be reached and reiterated that there were "still significant policy differences" between Democrats and the administration.

"We've bridged some gaps. We're probably closer than we were a week or two back," he told Fox Business Network in an interview, adding that state and local aid remained a significant difference.

Kudlow said Republicans who lead the relevant committees in the U.S. Senate and their Democratic counterparts who lead U.S. House panels were continuing to talk.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)