Hopes of New Stimulus Deal Before November 3 Recede as Pelosi, Trump Spar

'We remain at an impasse' says Pelosi, citing serious issues, while Trump blames the House Speaker.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that negotiations with the White House over a new Covid-19 relief package aimed at assisting American businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, has remained at an impasse.

"This past week, the President demonstrated very clearly that he has not taken the war against the virus seriously, personally or nationally. This attitude is reflected in the grossly inadequate response we finally received from the administration on Saturday," Xinhua news agency quoted Pelosi as saying in a letter to her Democratic colleagues sent out on Sunday.

"In terms of addressing testing, tracing and treatment, what the Trump administration has offered is wholly insufficient.

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi Wikimedia Commons

"We remain at an impasse" until these serious issues are resolved, she added.

"However, I remain hopeful that the White House will join us to work toward a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America's families and will do so soon."

'Republicans Want to do it'

Reacting to Pelosi's letter, President Donald Trump told Fox News on Sunday that he held the Speaker responsible for a lack of progress on the relief package.

"Republicans want to do it. We're having a hard time with Nancy Pelosi. She thinks she can influence the election.

"And I think they're hurting themselves by not doing it. But the Republicans want to do it. We want to do stimulus," said the President.

In a letter to Congress also sent Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked lawmakers to first pass legislation allowing the administration to redirect about $130 billion in unused funding from the Paycheck Protection Program intended for small businesses while negotiations continue on a broader relief package, according to The Washington Post.

But the administration's latest request is unlikely to advance in the Democrats-controlled House, where Pelosi has rejected stand-alone legislation in favour of a comprehensive package to address the economic and health consequences of the pandemic, the report said.

It is not clear whether congressional lawmaker and the Trump administration could bridge their differences and reach an agreement on the relief package before the presidential election on November 3.

Sunday's developments came after the Trump administration on October 9 made a new $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package offer.

The $1.8 trillion figure is up from a $1.6 trillion offer from earlier this week, although it remains below the $2.2 trillion in the bill passed by the House Democrats last week, CNN said in a report.

'Fifth Round of Stimulus'

In addition, the package also increased the amount of money it was willing to give to state and local governments from $250 billion to $300 billion and increased the amount of the direct payment per child from $500 to $1,000.

But the package was rejected by both Senate Republicans, there were "significant concerns raised with the price tag".

US Elections 2020
As the U.S. goes to poll in November, Russia, China and Iran are allegedly trying to influence the outcome (representational image) Pixabay

In July, Republicans initially offered a $1.1 trillion package, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that up to 20 Senators could vote against it.

Fifty-two Republican senators later backed a scaled-down $500 billion bill.

Negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill on a fifth round of stimulus have dragged on since the end of July without an agreement, the Hill news website reported.

As talk stalled in August, Trump acted unilaterally, signing executive orders meant to extend a federal moratorium on evictions and offer a payroll tax referral.