House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued their coronavirus relief talks over the weekend, but the House speaker indicated an “array” of differences still remain.
The two, who have been discussing legislation in the ball park of $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion, spoke for an hour and 15 minutes on Saturday, October 17, according to the Treasury secretary’s spokeswoman Monica Crowley.
Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, also noted on Twitter that, although the pair made progress on incorporating a comprehensive national testing plan, “additional differences” must be addressed within the next 48 hours.
“While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color,” he tweeted.
“There remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours.”
Hammill said in an October 15 update that Mnuchin expressed a willingness to resolve Pelosi’s demand for a national strategic testing plan — which was not included in the administration’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal.
Pelosi and Mnuchin have also reached a middle ground on certain measures — such as another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and additional funding for small businesses and the airline industry, The Washington Post reported.
Nonetheless, Hammill indicated that “decisions must be made by the White House” in order to “demonstrate the Administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement that provides for Americans with the greatest needs during the pandemic.”
The pair will continue their negotiations on Monday, October 19, Crowley added.
Here’s what you need to know:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Is Separating From the White House & Pushing for a Smaller Relief Bill
Prior to Mnuchin and Pelosi’s latest discussion, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his chamber’s plan to vote on a roughly $500 billion targeted relief package for small business funding.
The standalone vote for additional Paycheck Protection Program funds, which offer loans to small businesses struggling to stay open during the pandemic, will take place on Tuesday, October 20, he said. The main relief bill will be voted on the following day, McConnell continued.
“Republicans have tried numerous times to secure bipartisan agreement where possible and get aid out the door while these endless talks continue,” said McConnell in his Twitter statement.
“Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break this logjam.”
McConnell recently indicated at a Kentucky event that Trump’s push for “big” stimulus legislation is more than what he can “sell” to his members, according to CNN.
Trump Will Lobby McConnel ‘Should an Agreement Be Reached,’ Mnuchin Says
Mnuchin confirmed to Pelosi during an October 15 discussion that the president would lobby the Senate majority leader “should an agreement be reached,” according to Pelosi’s spokesman.
“The Speaker also raised Leader McConnell’s comments today about not being willing to put a comprehensive package on the Senate floor,” Hammill tweeted. “The Secretary indicated that the President would weigh in with Leader McConnell should an agreement be reached.”
Trump has shown a stark shift in stance on stimulus talks over the past week, sending mixed signals from his previous calls for standalone bills.