Kudlow says 'significant policy differences' remain in coronavirus relief talks as election looms
Aid for state and local government, liability protections for businesses continue to weigh on negotiations
President Trump's senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday that "significant policy differences" remain in coronavirus relief negotiations as White House officials and Democratic leaders struggle to strike a deal before the November election.
"There are still significant policy differences between the two teams, and those two policy differences have not yet been resolved," Kudlow said Thursday during an interview with FOX Business' Stuart Varney.
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The two biggest points of contention, which have weighed on relief discussions for months, are additional aid for state and local government and liability protections for businesses, he said. But time is running out for the two sides to come to an agreement before Nov. 3; even if there is a deal, the legislation faces little chance of passing amid an increasingly tight timeline and mounting opposition from Senate Republicans.
Asked whether there could be a deal passed before the election, Kudlow hedged: "The clock is ticking. At some point you gotta ask yourself: Just to get legislative agreements and votes in two houses and committee print, that takes time. We've got like 12 days left...The clock is ticking."
His comments came shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded an upbeat note about the outlook for a deal.
"They still haven't completely signed off on it," Pelosi told reporters. "But I think we're just about there."
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Democrats and Republicans sharply disagree over the size and scope of another relief bill and are billions of dollars apart in their proposals, unable to reconcile key policy differences on issues such as a virus testing plan, aid to state and local governments and tax cuts for low- and middle-income families.
The White House most recently proposed an aid package worth $1.8 trillion — rejected by both Democrats and Republicans — but Trump has repeatedly indicated that he would consider a package with an even bigger price tag than Democrats' $2.2-trillion package.
Pelosi told reporters Wednesday that she hoped to finalize a bill by the end of the week: "That's the plan. That's what I would hope," she said.
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But with less than two weeks until the election, key hurdles still remain, including growing dissent among Senate Republicans, who have balked at passing a multitrillion-dollar aid package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also emerged as an obstacle in negotiations, privately urging the White House not to settle with Pelosi before the election amid concerns it could interfere with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, two sources told Fox News.
For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on another round of emergency relief for families and businesses — negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.