Time running out to reach COVID-19 relief deal before election

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As the soft deadline set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looms, it’s still unclear if federal leaders will reach a deal to pass more coronavirus relief before Election Day.

“We’ve got to get this done,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said Tuesday, hours before Pelosi’s midnight deadline.

Pelosi, D-Calif., says it would be tough to get the bill through congress by the election if a deal isn’t reached Tuesday. She and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been in talks to make it happen.

Bustos hopes Republicans will agree to Democrats’ $2.2 trillion proposal.

“Small businesses need our help. Families need our help. That $1,200 stimulus check is needed,” she said.

While President Donald Trump has urged his party to “go big” on a package, many Republicans are still balking at Democrats’ huge price tag.

“I don’t think we ought to give any more money to state and local governments, but I wouldn’t say no to a whole package if it’s a more reasonable figure,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said.

He added he supports two targeted bills created in the Republican-led Senate, one to extend the Paycheck Protection Program and another $500 billion plan to fund schools, unemployment benefits and vaccine development.

“We’re proposing this not as a take-it-or-leave-it to the Democrats, but a suggestion from Republicans from where there’s already bipartisan agreement,” Grassley said.

“Spare me,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., scoffed in response to the proposals, arguing they don’t do enough.

“No funding for housing or rental assistance,” he pointed out on the Senate floor. “And people are wondering, ‘Is it possible we’re going to see a $1,200 check?’ Well, you won’t see it in (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell’s proposal.”

“We’ve got a big bill problem and we can’t fix it with a skinny bill,” Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, agreed.

Durbin has called on Republican congressional leaders to hold out for a bipartisan deal with the White House.

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