WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met on Wednesday but were unable to reach an agreement on a coronavirus aid package.
House Democrats plan to vote Wednesday evening on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package that will be likely rejected by the GOP-controlled Senate.
It’s unclear if a possible GOP package would include another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans. President Donald Trump has gone on record saying he supports additional checks.
Now, the big question is whether Pelosi will budge by $800 million.
When asked uesday if she’d come down from her current position of $2.2 trillion, Pelosi told CNN’s Manu Raju that her figure is “what meets the needs of the American people.”
The deal offered by Mnuchin is similar to the pricetag of a package proposed two weeks ago by the Problem Solvers Caucus. The figure of $1.5 trillion was loosely endorsed by Trump.
“I like the larger amount,” Trump said after the bipartisan proposal was released. “Some of the Republicans disagree, but I think I can convince them to go along with that. I like the larger number. I want to see people get money; it wasn’t their fault that this happened.”
The newest $2.2 trillion Pelosi-backed measure would send a second round of $1,200 direct payments to most individuals and revive a $600-per-week pandemic jobless benefit. It would scale back an aid package to state and local governments to a still-huge $436 billion, send a whopping $225 billion to colleges and universities, and deliver another round of subsidies to businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Democratic proposal represents a cutback from a $3.4 trillion bill that passed the House in May, but remains well above what Senate Republicans are willing to accept. Republicans have endorsed staying in the range of $650 billion to $1 trillion.
“We’ve come down $1 trillion, and they need to come up because we have to crush this virus,” Pelosi said Monday on MSNBC. “It takes money to crush the virus. It takes money to make the schools safe. It takes money to put money in people’s pockets.”
Pelosi said during an interview with CNN Sunday that she expects her conversations with the Trump administration are in “good faith.”
“I trust Secretary Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution, and I believe we can come to an agreement,” Pelosi said.
Talks over the summer broke down in acrimony and name-calling, and conversations this month haven’t produced visible progress. Even if the rival sides could agree on a “top line” figure from which to negotiate details, dozens of difficult issues would remain to be sorted out.
For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is insisting that a liability shield against potential lawsuits brought against businesses, schools and universities that reopen during the pandemic be part of the legislation. Pelosi opposes the idea and didn’t include it in Monday’s legislation.
Democrats say the purpose of the new draft legislation is to show good faith and spark a more meaningful round of talks. But it also comes after party moderates and “front line” lawmakers in swing districts protested that Democratic leaders were being too inflexible.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.