WASHINGTON ― It took only one day for the flicker of optimism over a new coronavirus relief bill to extinguish, as Democrats and the Trump administration both signaled Thursday that a deal wasn’t coming together.
“This isn’t half a loaf,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday. “What they’re offering is the heel of the loaf.”
After Pelosi delayed a vote Wednesday night on a scaled-down proposal that would restore the extra $600 a week for the unemployed, provide another round of $1,200 checks to most Americans, and give state and local governments $436 billion ― a bill costing $2.2 trillion ― the possibility of a deal looked better than perhaps any time during the past two months.
But the optimism quickly turned to pessimism, as Pelosi cast doubt on a deal during a conference call with Democratic members, as well as during a weekly press conference.
“We come from two different places,” Pelosi said of Republicans on Thursday.
The major sticking points are the state and local aid, liability protections for businesses that have reopened during the coronavirus pandemic, and the overall cost of the bill. The Trump administration has said it came up to $1.6 trillion from its initial offers of a measure costing less than $1 trillion. But Democrats have been working their way down from a $3.4 trillion bill the House passed in May.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears to be indifferent about a deal anyway. All that he offered on Thursday was that he wished Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin well as they attempted to reach an agreement.
But both sides appear to be coming to terms with the fact that there won’t be a deal. Pelosi decided to move ahead with a vote on the scaled-down measure, a signal to voters that Democrats have compromised and that it’s Republicans who won’t negotiate. And Republicans ― many of whom have publicly said they would prefer that extra jobless...