Pelosi (D-Calif.) Has insisted that plans to vote on the new bill do not preclude reaching an agreement with Mnuchin. In recent days, the two have resumed the bipartisan negotiations that failed at the beginning of August, although so far without reaching an agreement.
“This is a very smart bill, we are very proud of it. And we want people to see what the possibilities are,” Pelosi said during his weekly press conference. He said action on the legislation had “no bearing on”
Those negotiations seemed to be progressing slowly, if at all. Pelosi and Mnuchin – who held their first face-to-face meeting in weeks on Wednesday – talked on the phone for about 50 minutes on Thursday afternoon. Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said they will speak again later in the day, but that “distance from key areas remains”.
The two sides also engaged in a round of finger-pointing on Thursday that almost seemed to predict defeat and assign the blame in advance.
In the White House, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed that the administration had offered Pelosi a package of about $ 1.6 trillion – much higher than many congressional Republicans would have been able to claim – but said that Pelosi “was not interested”.
“Nancy Pelosi is not serious. If it gets serious, then we can have an argument, “McEnany said.
For his part, Pelosi criticized the GOP’s proposals as being too stingy, arguing that the administration focuses on protecting tax breaks for the rich rather than helping families and children in need.
“This is not half a loaf, this is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi told Bloomberg TV of the White House proposal.
House Democrats’ new bill includes new $ 1,200 stimulus checks, a $ 600 weekly renewal of increased unemployment benefits, airline aid, small business aid, and money for electoral security, the postal system, vaccine development and distribution and more.
There is an overlap between what the Democrats want and Mnuchin’s $ 1.62 trillion offer to Pelosi on Wednesday, which included $ 1,200 checks, weekly unemployment benefits of $ 400, and $ 75 billion for testing. and coronavirus tracking, among other provisions, according to two people familiar with its contents. who spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm it. There is also $ 250 billion for state and local governments, but Democrats want more.
The details of the proposal were first reported by Roll Call.
Pelosi said on Thursday that significant differences remain, including over state and local aid, and the Democrats’ request for a child tax credit which Pelosi said the administration opposes.
Congress is expected to adjourn to elections later this week, and it seemed unlikely that Pelosi and Mnuchin would be able to strike a deal before then.
Even if they do, Republican support for Congress is far from assured. There is widespread suspicion of Mnuchin among some congressional Republicans who consider him too fast to capitulate to Pelosi.
Senate Republicans have opposed supporting any bill costing more than $ 1 trillion if that, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Has distanced himself from the talks.
“I’d like to see another rescue package. We’ve been trying to get there for months. I wish them well,” McConnell said.
Rep Kevin Brady (Tex.), The top Republican on the House Ways and Means committee, expressed concern at Fox Business over the many provisions under consideration, including the amount of unemployment aid and aid for state and local governments . Brady said some help is needed for the airline and restaurant industry, but it’s unclear at what cost.
“The concern is, ‘How much wasteful expense will we have to swallow to do it?'” Brady said. “I think we need targeted help. The question is, “Is the $ 500 or $ 700 billion we really need – is the other $ 1 trillion in addition so expensive that we can’t do it?” We do not know yet “.
Congress hasn’t passed coronavirus relief legislation since spring, when lawmakers gathered on four bipartisan bills totaling about $ 3 trillion. In the opinion of some Republicans, it was more than enough and there is no need to do more.
But Mnuchin, along with other key policymakers, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, have consistently argued that more stimulus is needed amid signs of a slowdown in the recovery. Much of the stimulus approved in the spring has expired, unemployment remains high and layoffs are on the rise.
The number of people reporting unemployment rose slightly, to 26.5 million, and Americans’ income declined in August along with the expiration of federal emergency aid programs. Disney announced 28,000 layoffs earlier this week, and major airlines indicated that tens of thousands of layoffs are possible in the coming days without further federal help. American Airlines announced it will proceed with the layoff of 19,000 workers, citing inaction in Congress.