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Stimulus check 2 — Pelosi says it could happen by Election Day

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, addresses reporters outside the U.S. Capitol.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, accompanied by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, addresses reporters outside the U.S. Capitol. (Image credit: Michael Candelori/Shutterstock)

After setting a deadline — and then missing it — for moving a comprehensive stimulus-relief package forward ahead of Election Day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) now says  she's still hopeful an agreement with the White House will happen by Nov. 3. 

"I never give up hope. I'm optimistic," she said Sunday (Oct. 25) on CNN's "State of the Union." 

A week ago, Pelosi had given the White House a 48-hour deadline to reach a consensus on a second stimulus bill and ensure that lawmakers would have time to hold votes before the election. No deal was made by the deadline, but talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued through the week. 

While she is now suggesting that a bill could happen before next week, she has also said that the Trump administration keeps "moving the goal post." 

The two sides had nearly reached consensus on the cost of a second bill — the House has already passed a revised HEROES Act totaling $2.2 trillion, and the latest White House proposal amounts to about $1.9 trillion — as well as stimulus check 2. 

But disagreement remains over the specifics, including the amount of aid sent to state and local governments and whether the bill should include liability protections for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.

For his part, Mnuchin has downplayed the possibility of a relief package passing before Nov. 3. At the end of last week, he said that "significant differences" remain between the two sides. 

The stock market on Monday reflected this general public uncertainty rather than Pelosi's optimism. Rising coronavirus-case numbers and indecision on additional stimulus funding sent stocks tumbling, CNN Business reports

Senate likely to head home

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are focused on confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and then are likely to leave Washington for a final week of campaigning. 

GOP senators last week brought a second "skinny" bill — weighing in at $500 billion but which did not include a second round of stimulus checks — to a vote but were blocked by Democrats. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and many members of the Senate GOP have been resistant to spending anywhere close to what House Democrats and Trump administration officials have considered. 

It's not clear if McConnell would even bring a Pelosi-Trump compromise bill to the Senate floor. In public, he has said he would have to consider it. But in private, he reportedly told GOP senators that he had asked the White House to avoid reaching a deal with Pelosi before Election Day.