The difference between the legislative meaning of the words “shall” and “may” are what’s keeping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from signing off on the stimulus package she has spent months negotiating with Republicans .
“When you say ‘may’ you’re giving the president a slush fund. He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold. When you say ‘shall,’ according to … what the science tells must happen … we can open our schools, we can open our businesses,” Pelosi said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”.
Asked if she was any closer to reaching a deal with Republicans after speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for over an hour on Saturday night, she responded that she’s “seeking clarity”.
“We don’t have agreement in the language yet, but I’m hopeful,” she said.
Pelosi’s comments come after a top aide of hers tweeted late Saturday night that “decisions must be made by the White House” within 48 hours.
Pelosi said the 48-hour deadline “only relates to if we want to get it [a stimulus package] done before the election.”
Pelosi said she wants to pass a stimulus package before Nov. 3, but that the two parties need to reach an agreement on the language and design of the package for that to happen.
Pelosi and Mnuchin made progress regarding a national testing strategy, deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted. They are still working on components of it though, including contact tracing and additional measures to address “the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color.”
Beyond the language of the stimulus package, there remains a $400 billion gap between what the White House is proposing for a stimulus package versus House Democrats.
However, President Donald Trump said Thursday in a phone interview on Fox Business Network that he had authorized Mnuchin to go above the $1.8 trillion offer the White House had previously made.
A spokeswoman for Mnuchin tweeted that Pelosi agreed to speak again with him on Monday.