Negotiations for another round of coronavirus relief appear to be moving forward, despite months of back-and-forth between the two major parties, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
With pressure mounting to pass a second stimulus package before the upcoming election, which is now less than three weeks away, Pelosi indicated progress on Thursday, October 15, about the proceedings, her spokesman Drew Hammill disclosed on Twitter.
The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin spoke at 3:30 p.m. today for 1 hr, 22 mins. The Secretary stated he would accept Democrats’ language for a national strategic testing plan with “minor” edits & that language would be shared tomorrow. The Speaker looks forward to reviewing. (1/4)
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) October 15, 2020
Hammill stated that the two met for a nearly 90-minute conversation, with the Treasury secretary expressing 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.
“The Secretary stated he would accept Democrats’ language for a national strategic testing plan with ‘minor’ edits & that language would be shared tomorrow,” Hammill tweeted. “The Speaker looks forward to reviewing.”
Mnuchin and Pelosi have been discussing a package in the ballpark of $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, reaching 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.
Extended federal unemployment benefits are also a top priority, but the program’s execution remains a debate, the newspaper continued.
During the meeting, Pelosi highlighted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent resistance to the idea of a broad-based package, although the president has been a vocal advocate for a larger bill.
“The Speaker reminded the Secretary that the President has recently and repeatedly urged an agreement, and indicated his willingness to ‘go big or go home,'” Hammill tweeted.
“The Speaker also raised Leader McConnell’s comments today about not being willing to put a comprehensive package on the Senate floor,” he continued. “The Secretary indicated that the President would weigh in with Leader McConnell should an agreement be reached.”
Here’s what you need to know:
McConnell Is Pushing for a $500 Billion Targeted Plan
McConnell appears to be doubling down on his stance that only a targeted plan would pass through the Senate, indicating a possible road block to achieving legislation before Election Day, according to The Hill.
The Senate majority leader announced Tuesday, October 13, that the chamber will vote the following week on a roughly $500 billion “targeted” plan, including additional funds for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
McConnell, who slammed the White House’s $1.8 trillion proposal as too costly, recently indicated that Trump is pushing for a bill “much higher” than he can “sell” to his members, according to CNN.
Trump Will ‘Weigh in’ With McConnell Should an Agreement Be Reached
When Pelosi expressed concern to Mnuchin over McConnell’s harsh opposition, the Treasury secretary confirmed that the president would “weigh in” with the Senate majority leader “should an agreement be reached,” Hammill tweeted.
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 to a massive package — one even higher than Mnuchin’s $1.8 trillion offer to Pelosi.
On October 13, the president called on legislators to “go big or go home” on a stimulus, but he blamed Pelosi two days later for holding up negotiations.
“Pelosi is holding up STIMULUS, not the Republicans!” he tweeted on October 15.
The Washington Post said Trump’s “erratic approach to the negotiations makes it uncertain whether he can or would exert the necessary political pressure to move Senate Republicans to take a vote many of them do not want to take, especially at a moment when the president is down in polls and some Republicans have begun to distance themselves from him.”