Nancy Pelosi opens the door for stimulus negotiations to continue after Christmas

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press briefing on November 20, 2020. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images
  • Pelosi suggested that stimulus negotiations could stretch on after Christmas if necessary.

  • “If we need more time, then we take more time. But we have to have a bill and we cannot go home without it,” Pelosi said.

  • Republicans and Democrats are struggling to reach a pandemic relief deal and talks have stalled this week.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested at a press conference on Thursday that negotiations on a federal rescue package could stretch into late December if necessary.

“If we need more time, then we take more time. But we have to have a bill and we cannot go home without it,” Pelosi said, later adding, “We’ve been here after Christmas, you know.”

However, the California Democrat said it was preferable to pass emergency spending legislation before December 18, which is set to be the new government funding deadline. The House on Wednesday approved a one-week spending extension until then and the Senate is expected to follow suit.

Both Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say they want to attach a pandemic relief bill to a broader omnibus package that would fund the government into next year. Negotiators though are still split on numerous policy disagreements, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

“In order to have the covid [relief] added to an omnibus, you have to have an omnibus, so we’re working dual tracks on that,” Pelosi said. “I would hope that it would honor the December. 18 deadline, but we can’t go before the package is ready and and the votes are there as well as the fact that people do want to get home for the holidays, such as that is.”

If the relief talks in Congress drag on for several more weeks, it could result in the expiration of several federal programs assisting millions of people – and raising the specter of a financial disaster for many individuals.

About 12 million people are threatened with a total loss of jobless aid the day after Christmas if Congress fails to renew an unemployment program providing benefits to gig workers, along with another measure extending state benefits for people who have already exhausted them.

On top of that, an eviction moratorium is also on course to expire on December 31, with millions of people facing the risk of losing their homes if it’s not extended. The program did not attach any financial relief for people who must make up for missed rent payments.

The economy is demonstrating new signs of weakness. Around 1.4 million people filed new unemployment claims last week, per Labor Department data released on Thursday, a notable increase from the previous week. The figure combines regular state unemployment claims as well as those under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers and contractors. 

Republicans and Democrats appear once again deadlocked on the scope and size of another economic aid package. Negotiations among a bipartisan group of senators on a $908 billion plan has continued for the past week, and they’ve sought to turn a one-page plan into a legislative package Congress can pass and send to President Donald Trump for his signature.

A summary of their plan released Wednesday indicates the group has not resolved major differences on state aid and a liability shield for companies protecting them from virus-related lawsuits, two fiercely contested issues. Democrats are seeking to include state aid, a measure resisted by many Republicans.

Republicans meanwhile are pressing for the liability shield, which Democrats argue jeopardizes the safety of workers by making it harder for them to sue employers for dangerous working conditions.

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