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White House and House Speaker ‘optimistic’ about coronavirus stimulus, but not Wall Street

“To crush the virus, we have to follow the science, testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, ventilation separation and the rest,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who has been negotiating a new stimulus deal

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

Jose Luis Magana, Associated Press

If the White House and Congress want to pass new coronavirus legislation by next Tuesday’s election, the hours and days are running out. Key negotiators appear to be closing in on additional funding to combat the pandemic, but Wall Street doesn’t seem so sure.

The stock market, reacting to the national and international coronavirus spike, took a hit on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 3.1%, in what could be its worst day since June, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite fell 2.6% and 2.4%.

“The ability to fight the virus further right now is very much in question, and it’s a political question,” Citi Private Bank chief Steven Wieting told The Wall Street Journal.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. and “much of Europe” have seen surges in coronavirus cases, according to The New York Times.

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” that she was “optimistic” there was still time before the Nov. 3 election for new legislation to be signed into law.

“We put pen to paper and have been writing the bill based on what we hope will be the outcome of what they (Republicans) said they would get back to us on,” she told the CNN anchor.

Pelosi said last Tuesday, Oct. 20, was the House’s deadline to reach an agreement before the election, but negotiations have continued. The $2 trillion proposal under negotiation is a slimmed down version of the HEROES Act — which passed the House in May.

“To do anything, though, that does not crush the virus is really official malfeasance. And to crush the virus, we have to follow the science, testing, tracing, treatment, mask wearing, ventilation, separation and the rest,” Pelosi said.

Another central issue in negotiations is clear language that directs where funding can be spent. “We cannot just say, ‘Mr. President, here is trillions of dollars. Spend it any way you want’,” she added. “We have a plan, a strategic plan.”

Also on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, one of the administration’s key coronavirus legislation negotiators, told Tapper that Republicans were ready to make a deal.

“I do have a commitment from Leader (Mitch) McConnell that if we get an agreement he’s willing to bring it to the floor and get it passed,” Meadows said. He qualified that agreement with the caveat that the Republican-led Senate would need to read the House and White House’s completed bill before they would agree to it.

Last week, McConnell, R-Ky, had told Republican senators in private that he had “warned the White House to not strike a pre-election deal” with Pelosi, The New York Tims reported.

While the White House and Pelosi work on the new details of the large HEROES Act, the GOP-controlled Senate has created its own “targeted” legislation. Last Wednesday, a $500 billion Senate bill — which allocated additional money toward unemployment, education, testing and a coronavirus vaccine — failed to receive support from at least 60 senators needed to pass the bill, reported USA Today. The proposed legislation failed mostly along partisan lines and was criticized for not doing enough to combat the pandemic.

Meadows said Sunday, referencing a larger House spending package, that “we’ve identified those Senate Republicans most likely to vote for it.” He did not tell Tapper who those senators were or why they may vote for the House bill.

Pelosi and Meadows, who appeared on Tapper’s show at different times, accused each other of “moving the goalpost” during negations.

President Donald Trump has said recently that he would support a bill with an even higher price tag and is encouraging lawmakers that the bill should include an additional round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.