Pelosi scolds White House over no response in virus talks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pointing fingers over the failure to deliver coronavirus aid

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a scolding assessment of COVID-19 relief talks on Thursday, blaming Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for failing to produce answers to her demands for Democratic priorities as part of an almost $2 trillion aid package.

Pelosi says remaining obstacles to an agreement include more than half a dozen big-ticket items, including a testing plan, aid to state and local governments, funding for schools, jobless benefits and a GOP-sought shield against coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Pelosi’s letter to Mnuchin comes as markets are reeling from a coronavirus surge across the country and Washington’s failure to agree on another virus relief package.

The California Democrat has played hardball in the talks and has for months demanded a $2 trillion-plus COVID-19 rescue deal that’s larger than the landmark $1.8 trillion CARES Act that swept through Congress in March. Legislation has twice passed the House, but the GOP-held Senate has been gridlocked.

Recent weeks of secretive talks have been accompanied by lots of optimistic talk from Pelosi and at times from her administration counterparts — but no results. Meanwhile, many Senate Republicans have broken with Trump, who was eager for a deal that would have let him issue another round of $1,200 direct payments in his name. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised Trump against a deal before the election, warning it would divide Republicans.

The failure of the talks, along with a third, frightening wave of coronavirus cases sweeping the country, has sent markets plummeting and is sure to bring heat on lawmakers to resolve their differences after the election. But such lame-duck sessions — especially if there is a change in Washington’s balance of power — often fail to deliver.