Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed optimism on Friday that congressional leaders can come together on a COVID-19 relief package before the November election.
“I’m optimistic. I do think that we should have an agreement,” Pelosi told CNN in an interview. “That’s what we all want.”
Pelosi’s remarks come after a $500 billion “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill failed Thursday in the Republican-led Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has expressed a more negative outlook about a relief deal before the election.
“We have been in a challenging period. … Regretfully, I can’t tell you today we’re going to get there. … I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package but it doesn’t look that good right now,” McConnell said Friday at an event in Kentucky.
In May, the Democratic-majority House of Representatives passed the $3.4 million Heroes Act, with McConnell calling the bill a “liberal wish list.” In August, congressional leaders and the White House failed to reach an agreement on a relief package and negotiations remain stalled.
President Trump signed a series of executive orders in August after the collapse of the negotiations. Trump’s executive actions extend a federal moratorium on evictions, suspend student loan payments and provide a payroll tax deferral.
Yet, Trump’s executive orders only go so far. Congress must pass a stimulus agreement before October, or thousands of airline workers will be laid off at the beginning of next month.
Although the economy is showing some signs of a recovery, even some conservative business groups have called for more stimulus spending. The Chamber of Commerce has called for “more support” for “industries, businesses, and workers disparately harmed by the pandemic.”
“As a business community and a nation, we cannot allow millions of workers and broad swaths of our economy to be left behind in the COVID recovery,” the chamber’s president Suzanne Clark wrote in an article published earlier this month.