House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday accused each other of moving the goalposts in stimulus talks — a sign that a deal both sides have been negotiating for weeks remains elusive just nine days before the election.
“We’ve continued to make offer after offer after offer and Nancy continues to move the goalposts,” Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
But Pelosi countered during a separate interview with Tapper on Sunday: “They keep moving the goalposts.”
Talks between administration officials and congressional Democrats have been ongoing at the staff level for the last several days, as millions of American await additional coronavirus relief measures. Pelosi indicated Sunday that the two sides have not agreed on language on such major issues as coronavirus testing, jobless benefits and state and local funding.
Last Sunday, Pelosi said she was waiting on the White House to agree to the language on testing. A week later she is still waiting for the approval.
“They said we’ll support the testing language with a minor touch. That was 55% of the language. We’re still waiting for the final okay. And that is a central issue in all of this,” Pelosi said. “We’re ready, we can change some words in the bill should they come back with some modifications.”
She also noted that on Friday she sent the White House a list of remaining concerns she had and said she hopes to have some answers on those issues Monday.
“It could happen this week in the House. But that’s up to (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch (McConnell) as to whether it would happen in the Senate and go to the President’s desk, which is our hope and prayer,” Pelosi said.
Meadows told Tapper on Sunday that they have identified Senate Republicans who would most likely vote for a stimulus bill, but said, “We’re not Nancy Pelosi.”
“We’re not going to vote or opine on a bill and pass it before we’ve read it,” he said.
Sources have told CNN that McConnell privately has urged the White House not to strike a stimulus deal before the election because there is not support among Senate Republicans to pass it.
Pelosi also said that she will continue to work with the White House and McConnell, even if the Democrats win the election, because “people need help right away.”
CNN has reported the chances of passing a stimulus bill out of the House before Election Day have dropped to virtually zero if a real, substantive deal hadn’t come together by Friday night and isn’t in writing by this weekend.
Election Day has loomed large over these stimulus talks.
The election is what pushed President Donald Trump back to the negotiating table and its imminence has brought urgency back to what had been an impenetrable showdown. Negotiating a deal now would help Americans who badly need an influx of cash for struggling businesses, money for rent and increased benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, or food stamps.