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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin engaged in fast-paced negotiations on Tuesday to cut a deal on a major relief package that could pass before Election Day — but Senate Republicans continued to throw cold water on any deal with the enormous price tag envisioned by Democrats and President Trump.

After speaking for 45 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, the two planned to resume talks on Wednesday as they tried to continue to hash out their differences on a range of matters, including funding for state and local governments, jobless benefits, funding for schools and liability protections for businesses — among other matters.

While Pelosi and her aides sounded upbeat about the progress in the talks, time is running short, meaning it’s growing more likely that any proposal would likely get voted on after the elections during a lame-duck session of Congress.

Here are key things you need to know about the negotiations:

The bottom line: If Pelosi is successful in getting Mnuchin and the White House to sign off on a nearly $2 trillion stimulus proposal and it gets drafted before the election, she’ll force the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to decide if he’s willing to hold a vote ahead of the election at a time when putting anything in the ball park of $2 trillion is going to fracture the GOP and force members to say no to something that could benefit their constituents and buoy the President even if the price tag is far more than they are comfortable with.

It’s the same negotiation that has been happening for months, and yet with less than two weeks to go until the election, the stimulus talks have become a litmus test for just how much GOP loyalty is left for a President who is sinking in the polls. After years of sticking with Trump despite his antics and despite the fact that some of the President’s policies flew in the face of long-established GOP orthodoxy, the stimulus bill is the make or break moment where Republican senators may finally throw up their hands and tell Trump “no.”

The negotiation according to the negotiators: If you are paying close attention to Pelosi’s tone over the last few days, you’ll notice she’s much more upbeat about a deal than perhaps we’ve seen in weeks or even months. Suddenly what was a deadline of Tuesday evening to strike an agreement has stretched into Wednesday and perhaps will stretch even further into this week.

“Our conversation provided more clarity and common ground as we move closer to an agreement. Today’s deadline enabled us to see that decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise,” Pelosi wrote to her colleagues Tuesday evening.

Democratic House members who have been impatient with Pelosi’s negotiation, her intention to wait for the White House to capitulate on nearly every one of the Democratic priorities are watching closely with awe as they see their Speaker get one concession after another from the White House. As one Democratic member put it to me questioning Pelosi’s negotiating tactics isn’t really a game worth playing and this moment is illustrating exactly why.

Negotiations according to everyone else: GOP leaders in the Senate still believe that Pelosi and Mnuchin — despite all the happy talk — are still far from pulling this off. Aides involved and familiar with these discussions tell CNN that there are still vital chunks of information that is missing.

On Monday, aides struggled to understand what exactly Pelosi and Mnuchin had decided on when it came to rental assistance. As of Tuesday evening, there still wasn’t much clarity. Questions about how to handle liability insurance, unemployment insurance, how much exactly has been agreed to on state and local funding: it’s all still unclear to the people who will have to sit down and write this legislation.

GOP leadership aides and some Democratic aides involved tell CNN that they just don’t see that as much progress has been made as Pelosi and Mncuhin are laying out right now. Again, that doesn’t mean a deal can’t come together very quickly if the White House and Pelosi sign off, but right now they are not there yet.

Read more here.


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