Millions of anxious American workers as well as businesses addled by the global pandemic were following the coronavirus-relief negotiations hour by hour on Wednesday.
The signs of progress were there early in the day, but hopes for a bill to be passed remained shaky as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin were likely headed for another round of discussions.
Wall Street wasn’t overly optimistic, with the Dow down 40 points by 9 a.m. PT.
On Tuesday, both sides reported progress toward what is believed to be a package in the range of $1.8 trillion. After her call with Mnuchin on Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi told Bloomberg, “I’m optimistic because I do think we have a shared value … we want to crush the virus.” She said the plan was to reach agreement this week.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said there was good progress but added there was still a ways to go before a deal. “We’re not just down to a difference of language and a few dollars,” he said.
Pelosi has pushed for a $2.2 trillion deal–the White House is offering $1.88 trillion–but Senate Republicans may have other ideas.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a USA Today report Wednesday, told fellow Republicans on Tuesday he urged the White House not to strike a deal with Democrats on a COVID-19 relief package, according to an anonymous Senate source.
McConnell had said that if the House agreed to a comprehensive coronavirus spending package, “at some point we’ll bring it to the floor.” He didn’t say whether he would support such a deal.
In a sign that these talks continue to go back and forth, Meadows told Fox Business that “the last 24 hours have moved the ball down the field,” and the goal is “some kind of deal in the next 48 hours.”