US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued talks on a Covid-19 relief package, but the two sides still have not resolved their differences on a national testing and tracing plan for the virus.
“As the nation faces record spikes in new Covid-19 cases, we continue to eagerly await the administration’s acceptance of our health language, which includes a national strategic plan on testing and tracing,” Xinhua news agency quoted Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman and deputy chief of staff, as saying on Twitter on Monday.
“We are hopeful their response will be positive as we also await the outcomes of talks between committee chairs,” the spokesman said.
He added that Pelosi remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached before November 3 presidential election.
In a separate statement released on Monday, Pelosi reiterated that the US cannot safely reopen schools and the economy unless “we have a national plan for testing, tracing, treatment, mask-wearing, social distancing and other science-based steps to crush the virus and combat the disparities facing communities of colour”.
“In all of our legislation, we have stressed the importance of testing, but the Administration has never followed through,” the veteran Democrat said, urging President Donald Trump’s administration to “come to agreement as soon as possible”.
Earlier this month, the Democrats-controlled House passed a $2.2-trillion relief bill, while the White House recently offered up to nearly $1.9 trillion.
However, some Senate Republicans insisted a figure below $1 trillion.
“It is clear that our progress depends on Leader McConnell agreeing to bipartisan, comprehensive legislation to crush the virus, honour our heroes – our essential workers – and put money in the pockets of the American people,” Hammill said, referring to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
With just eight days left before Election Day, the lack of an imminent agreement largely extinguished prospects of any legislation being written, voted on, and signed into law by President Donald Trump by November 3, according to Bloomberg News.
Economists, as well as Federal Reserve officials, have repeatedly argued that more fiscal relief is needed to sustain the economic recovery, warning of dire consequences if further fiscal support is not provided in time.