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Clyburn predicts action on coronavirus relief after elections

Clyburn predicts action on coronavirus relief after elections
© Greg Nash

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday predicted that lawmakers won't act on a coronavirus relief package until the lame-duck session after the Nov. 3 elections.

"The election is less than two weeks away, and I believe we'll be back in Washington a week or two after the elections and we can do something there. At least the elections will be behind us. People will know what their futures are," Clyburn said on CNN.

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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS economy hurtles toward 'COVID cliff' with programs set to expire Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground MORE (D-Calif.) and the Trump administration are still negotiating a stimulus package, which they've struggled to strike a deal on for the last three months.

Time is increasingly running short to reach an agreement, craft the legislative language for a package that could cost around $2 trillion and pass it through both chambers of Congress before Election Day.

Pelosi said early Wednesday afternoon that her goal is to get a bill done before the elections.

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"I'm optimistic that there will be a bill. It's a question of, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive?" Pelosi said on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."

"The election is coming soon. We know that the new Congress and new president are just two and a half months away. We don't want to wait that long. We want to get something done for the American people as soon as possible," she added.

Pelosi told House Democrats in a letter Tuesday night that a conversation with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans MORE earlier in the day "provided more clarity and common ground as we move closer to an agreement."

Pelosi said that she was turning to committee chairs to "resolve differences about funding levels and language" and would speak again with Mnuchin on Wednesday.

The House is currently not scheduled to return to Washington until Nov. 16.

Even if a bill was released and considered in the House within the next week, it's unclear whether the Senate would quickly take it up.

Pelosi and Mnuchin are currently discussing a coronavirus relief package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, while President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE has shown interest in going even higher.

But Senate Republicans are less keen on that price tag. The Senate will vote Wednesday on a more scaled-down, $500 billion package, but it's not expected to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions MORE (S.D.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, said earlier this week that he didn't know if at least 13 Republicans would vote for a $1.8 trillion package, the minimum number to advance such a bill if all 47 Democrats supported it.

And during a closed-door lunch on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Ky.) told GOP senators that he had warned the White House not to make a deal with Pelosi right before the elections because it could disrupt plans to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettAlito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open Hispanics shock Democrats in deep blue California COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries MORE, in the coming days, according to The Washington Post.

--Updated at 1:40 p.m.