On Wednesday, September 30, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed that the idea of a second round of stimulus checks isn’t dead. During an interview with Fox Business, he said he’d “reached an agreement” with Democratic leaders on the topic of direct payments. “… If there is a deal there will be direct payments,” he said. Of course, that leaves a very important caveat: a deal needs to be reached in order for these payments to be made.
Mnuchin and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi met for the first time in almost two months on Wednesday, The Hill reported. They had a 90-minute meeting in Pelosi’s office. In a statement after that meeting, Pelosi said, “Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification. Our conversations will continue.”
The House was set to vote on a $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal Wednesday evening, but Democratic leadership pushed the vote until later this week in the hopes that Pelosi and Mnuchin can continue to iron out details.
Here’s what you need to know:
Mnuchin Told Reporters He & Pelosi Have Made ‘A Lot of Progress’
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) September 30, 2020
It’s been a long summer of almost-compromises and failed negotiations for stimulus packages, but both Mnuchin and Pelosi appeared hopeful at the prospects of a deal after their meeting on September 30. Per NBC News, Mnuchin told reporters that they’d made “a lot of progress over the last few days” and also said, “We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do. And we’re going to see where we end up.”
According to CNBC, Mnuchin said the White House had reached alignment with House Democrats on issues like direct payments, small business loans and airline aid. However, they still don’t align on issues like state and local government aid and liability protections for businesses, the news network reported.
Mnuchin and Pelosi are set to have another meeting Thursday, October 1, and will likely give an update on how the talks are going by the end of the week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Is Less Optimistic About Reaching a Compromise With Democrats in Congress
In 2019, under Republican policies:⁰
– Fastest annual growth in household income on record
– Working-class & middle-class families saw more of the gains
– Poverty lowest since 1950s
That's the leadership our nation will need as we rebuild after COVID. https://t.co/Byrmh3DgD8
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 17, 2020
Though Mnuchin and Pelosi have indicated to reporters there is reason to be optimistic about the odds of another stimulus package making it through Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has done the opposite. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters about the chances of reaching a deal, he said, “I think it’s safe to say we’re far apart. We are very, very far apart.”
This means that even if Mnuchin and Pelosi reach a deal, a bill may not make it through Congress. The White House and the House of Representatives can’t pass a bill without the approval of the Republican-controlled Senate, so McConnell’s disinterest in these talks has significance.
As Forbes noted, Mnuchin has repeatedly said the White House wants a stimulus package that totals around a trillion and a half dollars. Pelosi’s current package in the House would provide $2.2 trillion in stimulus relief. As for Senate Republicans, they have pushed for a stimulus package at or less than $1 trillion, The Chicago Tribune reported.
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