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August 17, 2020

Pelosi says stimulus talks are complicated by 'complete disarray on the Republican side'

The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday continued her blame of Republicans for the stalemate in negotiations over another round of coronavirus relief funding for Americans.

In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Saturday, the Democratic leader said that progress on the negotiations is "complicated by the complete disarray on the Republican side — as President Donald Trump contradicts his own negotiators and his own position."

She criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans for refusing to provide further funding for states and local governments, which she called a "significant obstacle" inside negotiations.

Pelosi's letter marked the three-month anniversary of the House's passage of Democrats' $3.4 trillion stimulus package, the HEROES Act.

Both the House and the Senate are now in recess until September without passing a stimulus bill after weeks-long negotiations between the Trump administration and Democrats broke down. If there is a deal on the stimulus, however, members will have 24-hour notice to return for votes.

Later in the day, Trump said at a press conference from his Bedminster club in New Jersey that he would meet with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when the time is right, but insisted that Americans can "happily live with or without" another congressional stimulus bill despite the fact that many Americans have relied on the government assistance after the economy was upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

When a reporter asked the President why he has not met with the top Democratic congressional leadership, he responded, "When it's right I'll meet, but right now it's not right."

On Friday, a small group of members of the House's bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus spoke with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about how to end the impasse, and plan to continue future discussions.

"We had a productive, hour-long discussion about ways to help break the logjam between the parties, get negotiators back in the room, and help America in our response to the Covid crisis. We anticipate future meetings," a person on the call told CNN.

Other members on the call were caucus co-chairs Tom Reed and Josh Gottheimer, and Reps. Dean Phillips, Abigail Spanberger, Jimmy Panetta, and Anthony Gonzalez.

Republicans and Democrats are trillions of dollars apart on a topline cost and blame one another for the deadlock.

McConnell has accused Democrats for having "sabotaged" talks with "absurd demands that would not help working people."

Senate Republicans late last month proposed their own $1 trillion plan.

Pelosi called for the GOP to increase its offer by $1 trillion and said she'd go down by $1 trillion -- allowing them to negotiate a deal around the $2 trillion range.

But Pelosi's proposal lacks White House support and Senate Republican leaders believe a bill with that price tag wouldn't pass their chamber.

Last weekend, Trump bypassed Congress, signing four executive actions on coronavirus relief, one of which would provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits but is likely to meet challenges in court.

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