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Pelosi bullish on COVID-19 deal: 'Help is on the way'

A bullish Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Gaetz, Greene tout push to oust Cheney: 'Maybe we're the leaders' Free Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech MORE (D-Calif.) suggested Wednesday that a bipartisan deal on coronavirus relief is imminent, vowing that Congress will deliver another massive round of emergency aid either before Election Day or a short time later.

"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 in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"We're in a better place than we have been," she added. 

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Pelosi, who is in active negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE in search of an agreement, has seen the effort complicated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAssaults on Roe v Wade increasing Trump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (R-Ky.), who told Republicans behind closed doors Tuesday that he's pressing the White House to resist a deal before the election on Nov. 3.

Pelosi on Wednesday acknowledged the Senate opposition, but said Democrats can overcome the Republican defiance by leaning on President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE's entreaties to "go big" before the election. If that doesn't work, she said Congress would act quickly in the lame-duck session to secure more relief — and compensate for the time gap by making the benefits retroactive.

"I'm optimistic, because even with what Mitch McConnell says, 'We don't want to do it before the election,' ... let's keep working so that we can do it after the election," Pelosi said.

"We want it before," she added. "But again, I want people to know: Help is on the way. It will be bigger, it will be better, it will be safer, and it will be retroactive."

The Speaker and Mnuchin have been in constant talks in recent weeks, ironing out the differences in funding and policy language between the Democrats' $2.2 trillion proposal and the White House's latest offer, which is approaching $1.9 trillion. The pair is scheduled to speak again Wednesday afternoon.

Pelosi had set a Tuesday deadline for reaching an agreement with Mnuchin on the broad contours of a deal, if not the policy specifics, and the Speaker indicated on MSNBC that the two had met that threshold, allowing the talks to continue through the week.

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"I do not believe that our timetable has come and gone. We had a purpose in the timetable, which is that we would establish where we were. Freeze the design on your position," Pelosi said. "And that is what we are coming to conclusion about now.

"There is some delay on the part of Republicans about the appropriations piece of it. But I hope that will be resolved."

Several key sticking points remain as the sides race to unite behind another aid package. One of them relates to the amount of funding for state and local governments. Democrats had proposed $436 billion for those districts, while Mnuchin had countered with $300 billion.

"That affects just almost about everything," Pelosi said. "Health, transportation and the rest, that make our lives function."

The sides have also sparred over language, demanded by Republicans, to protect businesses and schools from lawsuits. Pelosi is insisting on strong worker safety provisions to accompany any concession Democrats make in that area.

"Safe schools, safe work place, these are values, they're not issues," she said.

Pelosi on Wednesday also noted a third area of disagreement: help for restaurants, which have been clobbered by shutdowns and consumer apprehensions amid the pandemic.

"That's something I'll be taking to the secretary about [later in the day]," she said.