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Pelosi cites progress, but says COVID-19 relief deal might be post-election

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (D-Calif.) said a deal is nearing on a COVID-19 relief package, but that it might not happen before Election Day. 

She also sought to put the onus on the GOP Senate over whether a bill will make it to President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE's desk. Republican senators have voiced opposition to the size of the package she is negotiating 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

"It's only about time," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "I think it is in range for us to pass it before the election. But it's not up to me to decide what the Senate does."

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Pelosi did not commit to a House vote before Nov. 3 if she and Mnuchin can seal a deal before then, even suggesting that the logistics surrounding legislation on that scale — including the time it takes legislative counsel to vet the bill and the Congressional Budget Office to provide a cost estimate — would make it tough.

"It's just not a question of us agreeing in a room," she said. "It takes time."

Still, the Speaker said she remains optimistic that an agreement is near at hand, noting that the White House has made concessions on funding for health care providers, testing, and the development and distribution of an elusive vaccine.

"That's the health care package that I think we're in a good place on," Pelosi said.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have yet to resolve several key policy differences as they race for an agreement. Pelosi named two in particular: more funding for state and local governments, demanded by Democrats; and liability language to protect schools and businesses from lawsuits, demanded by Republicans.

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She also suggested there are lingering divisions over funding to reopen schools, promoting the need for more teachers, support staff and infrastructure improvements such as ventilation.

"We can make our schools safe, it only takes money. And really not that much more money than they have in the bill," she said of the White House offer. "But it's not just the money, it's how it is spent."

On Wednesday, Pelosi had acknowledged the possibility that the voting timeline might slip into the post-election lame-duck session, but vowed to act quickly next month to provide more relief if that's the case.

"There will be a bill," Pelosi told MSNBC. "It's a question of is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal. Or is is going to be shortly thereafter, and retroactive?"

Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE (R-Ky.) and Republicans are racing to seat Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Conservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation MORE, with the floor vote scheduled for Monday.

Publicly, McConnell has said he's willing to vote on a bipartisan coronavirus deal, despite his own reservations — and those of most of his conference — about another multitrillion-dollar federal infusion.

“If such a deal were to clear the House, obviously with a presidential signature or promise, we would put it on the floor of the Senate and let the Senate consider it,” he said Tuesday.

Yet privately, the Senate leader has pushed the White House to reject a deal with Pelosi before the election, which would highlight divisions between Trump and Republican lawmakers just as voters are heading to the polls.

Pelosi on Thursday accused McConnell of confusing the debate with mixed messages, and left it to Trump to pull reluctant Republicans behind another stimulus bill — whenever it emerges.

"I do believe that both sides want to reach an agreement. I can't answer to the disarray on the Senate side," she said.

"It's not up to me to psych out Mitch McConnell," she added. "It's about the president of the United States engaging in a discussion, but it's up to him to deliver what can happen on the Senate side."