• Trump announced he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID-19, and the White House said they were experiencing symptoms
  • Pelosi said the diagnosis had changed the dynamics of negotiations on the next round of stimulus spending
  • Republicans, however, still object to the $2.2 trillion price tag on the stimulus package passed Thursday night by the Hosue

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday predicted agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package in light of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, saying his illness has changed the dynamics of negotiations.

Trump had long downplayed the severity of the pandemic and mocked mitigation efforts. The virus has killed more than 208,000 Americans in little more than six months. Trump had hoped to shift the focus on the disease during the election campaign, but his diagnosis served only to intensify the scrutiny.

“This kind of changes the dynamic because here they see the reality of what we have been saying all along -- this is a vicious virus,” Pelosi said on MSNBC, adding that she’s “optimistic” negotiators will be able to “find a path” to agreement.

Pelosi’s comments followed House passage Thursday night of a slimmed down $2.2 trillion stimulus plan that provides for $1,200 economic impact payments for individuals and $500 for dependents, including college students, and would resurrect the $600 a week supplemental unemployment benefit that expired July 31. The measure also expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, makes child care fully refundable on 2020 income taxes and expands the benefits to cover adult dependents, changes food assistance parameters and provides premium tax credits for people who lost their employer-provided health insurance.

Other provisions provide rental assistance, homeowners assistance, and aid to state and local governments.

As of Thursday, Republicans were still objecting to the price tag on the House legislation. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would like the stimulus to be more in the neighborhood of $1.6 trillion, a level Pelosi has called inadequate.

Mnuchin was to brief the president on the talks Friday.

Pelosi and Mnuchin met face-to-face on Wednesday for 90 minutes but mostly have conducted their negotiations by phone. Mnuchin told Pelosi Friday he had tested negative for the virus; Pelosi was awaiting results of her latest test.

Until this week, stimulus talks had been stalled since Aug. 7.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he expected the two sides to reach agreement.

“Would you rather have zero or would you rather have everything you want? There has to be compromise in life,” Kudlow told Fox Business.