President Donald Trump is willing to sign a $1.3 trillion COVID-19 pandemic relief bill, according to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued to reject the offer and said the amount was not enough.
“The president right now is willing to sign something at $1.3 trillion,” Meadows told reporters at the White House.
The $1.3 trillion has been offered in private, Meadows said. The latest proposed figure is a $300 billion increase from an initial $1 trillion offer from the White House and Senate Republicans, amid government efforts to address severe disruptions nationwide caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.
Meadows acknowledged that Pelosi wants a $2.2 trillion relief measure. Pelosi on Friday said in a “dear colleague” letter that she doesn’t want to settle for anything less than the $2.2 trillion package that Democrats proposed.
She said in a statement on Aug. 27 after a 25-minute phone call with Meadows that she believed the amount offered by the White House would not meet the needs of Americans and blamed the “tragic impasse” on the Trump administration.
“Democrats are willing to resume negotiations once Republicans start to take this process seriously,” she said on Aug. 27, adding the next day, “We hope Republicans will come to the table and accept our lower offer to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people.”
The Democratic-led House in May had passed a $3.4 trillion relief bill, the HEROES Act, which was not taken up by the Republican-dominated Senate. The bill has been criticized by Republicans as allowing more felons and illegal immigrants to be freed from prison (pdf). It would also allow businesses to legally hire illegal immigrants.
President Trump, when asked about the negotiations over the relief bill, told reporters aboard Air Force One on a flight to Washington from New Hampshire: “My impression is she wants to give no stimulus, all she wants is bailout for badly run Democrat states,” adding that another stimulus package would be good.
Negotiations have involved Pelosi, Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The talks were on the verge of collapse earlier this month over disagreements as to the size of the relief package.
Republicans in late July offered a $1 trillion bill known as the HEALS Act. Notably, the measure would omit funding for state and local jurisdictions, while Democrats’ HEROES Act included nearly $1 trillion in funding for those municipalities.
Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.