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Oct. 29, 2020, 2:43 p.m. EDT

Prospects for post-election fiscal stimulus package brighter amid softer Washington talk

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By Jonathan Nicholson

The Senate returns to Washington the week after next and the House a week later. Another coronavirus financial relief package may not be far behind, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump are to be believed.

Pelosi and Trump, as well as White House officials, have made comments in recent days saying a deal could be done after the election on Nov.3, avoiding the need to wait until January.

The comments came after Wall Street stocks reeled under the weight of four days of big losses in the wake of senators leaving Washington Monday, killing the chances for the pre-election deal amidst a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the U.S.

“We have plenty of work to do in the Joe Biden administration,” Pelosi said Thursday at her weekly press conference where she predicted a Biden win in Tuesday’s election.

“We want to have as clean a slate as possible going into January. We will have to do more on the coronavirus,” she said.

Pelosi warned, though, that she would not surrender key Democratic demands, including ones on testing and tracing for coronavirus. “We are not talking size. We are talking quality,” she said.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump, talking to reporters before leaving for a campaign trip, said, “After the election, we’ll get the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen. Because I think we’re going to take back the House because of her. I think you have a lot of congressmen and women — Republican — that are going to get elected. We’ll take back the House.”

On Thursday, Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said in a FOX News interview, “We’ll perhaps have to wait” until the lame duck session of Congress after the elections.

Getting a deal though will require smoothing over some ruffled feathers, on both sides of the partisan divide. Kudlow said a letter Pelosi sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin early Thursday outlining areas of continued disagreement showed bad faith.

“Our team now believes the Speaker has no intention of compromising on key issues,” he said. “She is stringing us along.”

Pelosi, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, showed she had not forgotten Trump’s prediction Republicans would retake the House. “You just keep thinking that, Mr. President,” she said.

A stopgap bill funding the government expires Dec. 11, which could provide a must-pass legislative vehicle on which to hang other items, such as a stimulus deal, or elements of it.

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