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Stimulus check 2: Pelosi gives Trump deadline to make deal

Nancy Pelosi in front of draped American flag.
(Image credit: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) in Brussels in February 2019.)

With just over two weeks to go until Election Day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has placed a deadline on stimulus-check negotiations, requiring the Trump administration to agree to a deal by the end of the day Tuesday, Oct. 20 to ensure a bill can be passed by Nov. 3. 

In a television interview on Sunday (Oct. 18), Pelosi said that consensus must be reached within 48 hours if lawmakers are to finalize and vote on a bill ahead of Election Day. The Speaker has been in talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but the two sides have yet to agree on a relief package. If a deal isn't reached, stimulus negotiations will push later into November.

"The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election — which we do," Pelosi said. "But we're saying to them we have to freeze the design on some of these things, are we going with it or not, and what is the language."

As the Washington Post reports, Democrats and the White House are further apart on the specifics of the bill than on the total dollar amount. While Mnuchin has moved slowly toward the cost of the House's $2.2 trillion revised HEROES Act, which passed earlier this month, President Trump has suggested he'd actually approve more spending

Still up in the air, however, are provisions such as the amount of aid to state and local governments, funding for coronavirus testing and liability protections for businesses. The first two are important to Democrats; the third is important to Republicans. Both sides have generally agreed that the next round of relief should include a second $1,200 check to eligible American taxpayers. 

Senate GOP to consider a bipartisan deal? 

Up to this point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has been hesitant to consider anything put forward by House Democrats. Senate Republicans are set to vote on Wednesday on a second $500 billion "skinny" relief package, despite the fact that the first such bill did not advance in the chamber and this one also has little chance of doing so. 

However, McConnell suggested Saturday that he might in fact bring a deal between House Democrats and the White House to the floor, Politico reports

"If Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the Administration, the Senate would of course consider it," he said.   

Trump himself has suggested that if a consensus is reached, the Senate GOP would fall in line, even as Republicans have moved in the opposite direction. This leaves open the possibility that a stimulus bill could still be passed before Election Day, although the window is closing fast.