Pelosi starts 48-hour clock on coronavirus relief talks

House Democrats and the White House have 48 hours to work out a deal on coronavirus relief before the election.

“I’m optimistic because, again, we’ve been back and forth on all of this,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “You know legislation, shall is different from may. Shall — the difference amounts to this, if you think of it this simple way, when you say may you’re giving the president a flush front (ph). He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold. When you say shall, according to the scientific — the science (ph) tell us must happen. And if we test and trace and treat, masks, separate, ventilate, sanitize, and all the rest of that, we can open our schools…we can open our businesses.”

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin meet tomorrow for more negotiations after a conversation on Saturday.

“[W]e’re seeking clarity, because, actually, the — with all due respect to some of the people in the president’s administration, they’re not legislators,” Pelosi commented to Stephanopoulos ignoring the fact Trump’s Chief of Staff, who’s involved in the negotiations, is a former congressman. “So, when they said we’re accepting the language on testing, for example, they’re just making a light touch. They said they changed shall to may, requirements to recommendations, a plan to a strategy, not a strategic plan. They took out 55 percent of the language that we had there for testing and tracing.”

Pelosi’s public negotiation mainly involved pushing for more money towards minority communities, something she harped upon earlier this month in a letter sent to Democratic colleagues. Her latest gripe to Stephanopoulos is a desire for a national plan involving the federal government forcing states to address the issue without revealing what exactly she wants in testing and tracing. The same goes for expenses.

We have pages and pages of how you would do this in the minority community. They crossed it all out. Instead, they put this sentence: ‘Contact tracing will be paid for by the federal government as part of the $75 billion.’ Okay, we agree to that. ‘But given state difference, each state shall establish a strategy that is appropriate to its circumstances. CDC can provide guidance to the states on elements.’ ‘Can.’ No, ‘must.’ But in addition to that, we have to have a national plan. You cannot leave it up to the states to decide how they are going to address the minority community.

So, release the pages. That allows people to analyze and decide whether it’s a good plan or a bad plan. Simple.

There is, however, another chamber in Congress required to weigh in before a bill gets signed by President Donald Trump. Senate Republicans appear perfectly fine with leaving everything to the White House.

“If Speaker Pelosi ever let the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the Administration, the Senate would of course consider it, ” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Saturday which also accused Pelosi of holding up negotiations for non-coronavirus relief issues. “Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break the logjam. The Senate will vote on hundreds of billions of dollars for targeted relief programs that Democrats do not even claim to oppose.”

Yay, public negotiations.

It’s likely Pelosi’s desire for a national plan suggests she believes Joe Biden wins the presidential race. It means the Trump Administration can either defer everything to the Biden Administration or the Biden Administration changes whatever it doesn’t like in the Trump plan in 2021. Or make tweaks in some grandiose political gesture. Pelosi may also be betting no deal happens and Trump makes another executive order setting more precedent for the next president to do the same, so Congress can avoid doing its job.

McConnell’s likely goal involves protecting the Republican Senate or, at least, Republicans on the ballot. It does appear to give the notion Republicans are attempting to do their job while ignoring the fact Trump signed another continuing resolution to fund the government through early December. Proving, yet again, Congress isn’t doing its job.

So..tick tock on political theatre over coronavirus ‘relief.’ No real solution expected.

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