Hope and engagement, but no stimulus deal in D.C.

Boston Statehouse

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 29: U.S. President Donald Trump’s name appears on the coronavirus economic assistance checks that were sent to citizens across the country April 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. The initial 88 million payments totaling nearly $158 billion were sent by the Treasury Department last week as most of the country remains under stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

BOSTON (SHNS) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she’s optimistic that Republicans and Democrats can reach a deal on the next round of coronavirus stimulus funding and that she hopes to bring a bill to the floor for a vote later in the day.

“Right now, we are at the table discussing how we can go forward with a possible COVID bill,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday morning.

She said, “We’re hopeful we can reach agreement because the needs of the American people are so great, but there has to be a recognition that it takes money to do that, and it takes the right language to make sure it is done right.”

Pelosi and Treasurer Secretary Steven Mnuchin met for 90 minutes Tuesday in hopes of finding an accord, and a potential Wednesday evening House vote on the legislation was scrapped to allow time for more talks.

“We’ve had constructive conversations, Secretary Mnuchin and I, but they are not finished,” Pelosi said.

She said the two sides are “coming closer” on small business measures but “still way off in terms of state and local government.”

“We are coming closer on money for our health provisions in the bill,” Pelosi said. “It’s just a question of the language.”

Budget writers on Beacon Hill, who have not yet produced a full spending plan for this year while the state runs on temporary budgets, have been looking toward Washington to see if any additional federal aid emerges.

In filing a spending bill to close the books on fiscal year 2020 yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker wrote that while “the need for public services continues unabated…the extent of federal support remains uncertain.”

Mnuchin, in a Wednesday evening Fox Business appearance, said he brought Pelosi “a very fair proposal that provides a lot of relief for hard-working Americans that have been hurt by this virus, particularly many of the small businesses, kids and jobs that are impacted by this.”

He said this is the first time the two sides have “seriously reengaged” in several weeks. He said President Trump “instructed us to come up significantly, so we have come up from the trillion dollar deal that we had been working on earlier.”

“We’re not going to do a $2.2 trillion deal,” Mnuchin said. “The good news is, the speaker has come down from her $3.4 trillion deal. If there’s a fair compromise, we’re prepared to do it.”

In coming up with lower price tags, Pelosi said the House Democrats are “not undermining our priorities but realigning some things in terms of the timetable, how long they would last.” She said a vote is important “for people to see that we completely identify with the concerns that they have and how we have allocated the resources necessary to get the job done.”

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