Pelosi says White House rejecting Democrats' COVID-19 testing plan
By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday the White House has refused to sign on to Democratic lawmakers' plan for a national coronavirus testing strategy, despite earlier public statements to the contrary by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Pelosi's assessment of what she sees as Trump administration failures in handling the pandemic came as negotiations between Democratic lawmakers and the White House drag on with only a week to go before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
"Today, we are waiting for an important response on several concerns, including on action to crush the virus," Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. "Ten days after Secretary Mnuchin went on CNBC to declare that he was accepting our testing plan, the administration still refuses to do so."
Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, has been negotiating with Mnuchin to try to reach agreement before the presidential and congressional elections on an aid package that could be worth around $2 trillion.
Congressional committees and staff worked on a possible deal over the weekend.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said talks have slowed but were continuing on Monday.
Mnuchin will get reports from the leaders of congressional committees that have been working on an agreement and he may also talk to Pelosi, Kudlow told reporters at the White House.
"The talks continue. They will continue today," Kudlow said.
"There are still a number of areas in her plan that the president cannot accept, just can't accept it," Kudlow said of Pelosi. "I will also say, there are a number of targeted areas that we really think would help the economy."
Pelosi and President Donald Trump have been trading accusations for days about who needed to act in order to cement another round of COVID-19 aid before Election Day, with Trump's fellow Senate Republicans off to the sidelines.
Sticking points remain around aid for state and local governments grappling with the devastating economic fallout of the pandemic and provisions around immigration and healthcare, Kudlow said.
Kudlow would not speculate on chances for a deal before the election. "I am not here to be either optimistic or pessimistic," he said.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)
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