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Pelosi says pandemic relief deal with White House possible, extends 'deadline'

ABC News logo ABC News 10/20/2020
a person wearing a costume: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her plans for Congress during a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, Oct. 9, 2020. © Carlos Barria/Reuters, FILE House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her plans for Congress during a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, Oct. 9, 2020.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared a self-imposed Tuesday deadline to wrap up negotiations on a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus pandemic relief bill so that it can be voted on before Election Day, she is now softening her tone, giving both sides more room to continue negotiations.

But Pelosi insists that if a bill is to be voted on before Election Day, it needs to be finalized and written by the end of this week.

MORE: A Tuesday deadline for pandemic relief deal but prospects dim

In an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg TV, Pelosi said the Tuesday deadline isn't necessarily a day in which a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin must be reached, but rather, one last opportunity for both sides to bring forth their final terms of agreement.

"It isn't that this day was a day that we would have a deal, today was a day where we would have our terms on the table to be able to go the next step," the California Democrat said, noting that legislation and procedural hurdles take a "long time" to figure out before a final product is on the table.

"I'm a legislator, they're not necessarily legislators, so I'm trying to impress upon them: if we want to have this by Election Day and I think we can, we have to engineer back from there to this week," Pelosi said.

"Hopefully by the end of the day today, we'll know wherever we all are," Pelosi said.

a person wearing a costume: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her plans for Congress during a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, Oct. 9, 2020. © Carlos Barria/Reuters, FILE House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her plans for Congress during a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, Oct. 9, 2020.

She and Mnuchin were set to speak Tuesday afternoon by phone at 3 p.m.

"I would think we have to have this finished by the end of next week. In order for that, we have to have our legislation all written by the end of this week. Then you have all your procedural 72 hours of review for the world to see," Pelosi said.


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Pelosi also noted that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, which are working on specific aspects of the coronavirus deal, aren't working as fast as she hoped.

An aide to the House Appropriations Committee told ABC News that they are working as fast as they can according to Pelosi and Mnuchin's timeline but the two sides remain billions of dollars apart.

But Pelosi says she remains optimistic that a deal can be reached, and even gave credit to the administration for "finally" wanting to "crush the virus."

"I’m optimistic because I do think we have a shared value – not many, but a shared value, finally, that they want to crush the virus. And that’s been a change from over the weekend," Pelosi said.

"As the secretary and I say to each other, if we didn't believe we could get this done, why would we even be talking to each other?" Pelosi said.

Steven Mnuchin looking at the camera: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies during a Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing examining the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress, in Washington, DC, Sept. 24, 2020. © Drew Angerer/Pool/Reuters, FILE Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies during a Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing examining the quarterly CARES Act report to Congress, in Washington, DC, Sept. 24, 2020.

There are still some major snags in negotiations between Democrats and the White House, which haven't changed over the course of the last several months: liability protections for workers and funding for local and state government.

Pelosi said she anticipates wrapping up the testing and tracing language Tuesday afternoon during her call with Mnuchin, and she said she will counter the administration's proposal on OSHA and liability protections.

"The two bookends of our differences right now ... one is state and local, and the other is liability and right now by the time I speak to the secretary at three o'clock, I think that we will have language countering what they have in the bill because safety in the workplace for us is not an issue, it's not a provision of the bill, it is a value," Pelosi said.

Asked if she was confident that Senate Republicans will come around to supporting the Pelosi-Mnuchin deal, Pelosi responded: "The president says they will."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he would allow a vote on the bill if it clears the House and has the support of President Donald Trump.

"If a presidentially-supported bill clears the House at some point, we’ll bring it to the floor," McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

McConnell has said repeatedly that he does not believe he can get many in his conference behind a more expensive proposal than his previously proposed targeted legislation.

On Monday, the second-ranking Republican senator, John Thune of South Dakota, told reporters "it'd be hard" to get the Senate GOP behind a $1.8 trillion proposal. Republican support on the House side will be necessary to wrangle the Senate, Thune said.

"If they agree to something they have to pass in the House with all Democratic votes my guess is the Leader is going to want to see some evidence that whatever is agreed upon has Republican support to try to convince Republicans over here to be for it," Thune said. "When their natural instinct depending on how big it is and what's in it is probably going to be to be against it."

McConnell is instead going his own way, forcing two votes in the Senate this week that are destined to fail. The first, expected Tuesday, is an effort to replenish the small business loan program created by the last relief bill passed in March. On Wednesday, the Senate will vote on a paired down relief package, worth about $500 billion, focusing on key areas of importance to Republicans.

The GOP bill contains more than $100 billion for education needs, billions for a coronavirus vaccine, virus testing and tracing, a replenishment of the popular small business loan program, unemployment assistance, and a litigation shield.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already signaled that these efforts will fail at the hands of Democrats, who have argued that a more robust approach is necessary.

ABC News' Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.

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