Pelosi expresses optimism over COVID-19 relief package

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism that Democratic and Republican lawmakers could reach an agreement on a new COVID-19 relief package before they leave Washington by the end of the year.

“As you know, we are engaged in talks on the omnibus bill. When I spoke to Leader McConnell yesterday, we talked about the possibility of putting a COVID package on the omnibus bill,” Pelosi said at a weekly news conference on Friday, referring to a government funding legislation to avoid a shutdown after December 11, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We are going to keep government open. You know, we’re not going to have a Continuing Resolution. But we need to take the time to do that,” she said, adding the two parties are making progress.

“We’ll take the time we need, and we must get it done…before we leave (Washington for holidays). We cannot leave without it,” Pelosi said. “I’m pleased that the tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.”

Pelosi’s remarks came after she had a phone conversation with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, during which the two leaders “shared commitment to completing an omnibus and COVID relief as soon as possible,” according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman and deputy chief of staff.

Despite of a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been deadlocked for months over the size and scope of the next round of fiscal support.

Federal Reserve officials have warned that the US economy is “plateauing” due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and the lack of fiscal support.

“Additional fiscal support is essential to bridge past COVID’s second wave in order to avoid labor market scarring, reductions in crucial state and local services, and bankruptcies,” Fed board governor Lael Brainard said earlier this week.

Without a new relief package, many Americans will soon lose their unemployment benefits and begin to face hardships like eviction and foreclosure by the end of the year.