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Pelosi, Mnuchin report progress on pandemic relief — but time is running short

While the presidential candidates make their pitches to voters across the country, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are continuing negotiations over another coronavirus relief package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said their differences on a bill are narrowing -- but meanwhile, time is running short. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Amna Nawaz to discuss.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Meanwhile, back in Washington, negotiations for coronavirus relief continue.

    To help make sense of the back-and-forth, I'm joined by our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, and congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins.

    Good to see you both.

    And, Lisa, let's start with you. Now, it has been a long time since Americans have seen any kind of relief from a COVID relief bill coming out of Congress.

    Bring us up to speed. What's the latest on the negotiations right now?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, just in the last couple of hours, Amna, another glimmer, not much more, but a glimmer of hope.

    Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had another phone conversation lasting just under an hour. They said they have narrowed their differences. And now Pelosi is doing something she hasn't done before. She's asking her committee chairmen to speak to their Republican counterparts on the Senate side, and for those two to try and work out differences in specific areas.

    It's a good sign. But here's the thing. Pelosi has outlined that she thinks, in order for a deal to get through Congress by Election Day, it has to really come to bear, it has to be outlined by tomorrow night. And it is not clear, with all their differences, including state and local money, unemployment, money, child care help, that they can get that done by tomorrow.

    Another factor, Amna, a quick graphic I want to show, there are a lot of dynamics for both sides that may discourage a deal. If you look at this graphic here, you can see that, for House Democrats, some of them believe that they will have more leverage and more power after the election. They think things in the House and Senate may be moving their way.

    On the other hand, for Senate Republicans, they are divided over a larger aid package altogether. And then the White House itself, however, would like something to get done by November 3, clock ticking very fast.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Yamiche, pick up on what Lisa was just talking about there, Speaker Pelosi saying, the deadline is basically now, it's got to happen soon if Americans are going to get any kind of relief before Election Day.

    What's the president thinking when it comes to a possible deal?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, 15 days before Election Day, the president is really, really eager to get some sort of deal done.

    He wants to be able to point to the American people and say, this is what I got done for you here, the people that are struggling because maybe you lost your job or you have a small business. He wants to be able to get on the campaign trail and say, your president is working for you. I was able to work with Democrats and get this done.

    The problem, of course, is that President Trump has been in some times a wrinkle in all of this. He's been on again, off again with these negotiations. Today, he was saying that he thinks that Nancy Pelosi is the one who doesn't want this done before the election, saying, essentially, that she wants to play politics with the timing.

    Another thing to note is that Democrats and Republicans are still far apart. Democrats are around $2.2 trillion. The White House is at about $1.8 trillion. President Trump, though, is saying he wants more money than what the Democrats want, except the White House hasn't actually made that offer to Republicans and made that offer to Democrats.

    Another thing to note is that the president hasn't really outlined how he's going to get Senate Republicans to work with him. He said today that he promised he would be able to get Senate Republicans on board. But we just don't know what the conversations are at that point. So, really, this is about the president wanting to be able to push, wanting to be able to make promises.

    Another thing, of course, that's really key is that the numbers are off on some key areas. As Lisa said, it's about school and state funding. It's about whether or not the unemployment benefits will be able to be on the same page with Republicans and Democrats.

    So, the president here is playing a large role, but that role continues to shift and change. And that's why we continue to see a glimmer of hope, but there's a lot of things that aren't done.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    A lot of things that aren't done. The back-and-forth continues, and, of course, a lot of Americans out there desperately in need of that help.

    That is Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins.

    Thanks to you both.

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