Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that both he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have agreed to continue negotiations over COVID-19 relief to break a stalemate.
“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the [continuing resolution],” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee, referring to the resolution that will extend funding the government until December. He said that he and Pelosi have “agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” referring to the stimulus bill that was passed in March that included—among other things—direct payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and small business loans.
“If the Democrats are willing to sit down, I’m willing to sit down anytime for bipartisan legislation, let’s pass something quickly,” Mnuchin added.
The House speaker, in her weekly news conference, said she expects negotiations with the Trump administration to continue shortly.
“We’ll be hopefully soon to the table with them,” Pelosi said, adding that Democratic leaders will soon introduce their proposal to outline their priorities.
Talks between the White House, Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) collapsed in early August. Republicans did not agree with several Democratic proposals such as the HEROES Act, which included more than $900 billion in federal funding to state and local governments, stipulating that there are too many non-pandemic related measures included.
The two sides have remained more than $1 trillion apart in the negotiations. Pelosi has repeatedly said that Democrats will not pass a measure worth less than $2.2 trillion, which Mnuchin and other White House officials have rejected.
On Thursday, Pelosi said that because the joblessness rate is still relatively high, the problem has grown since August, saying that Democrats will be seeking more money for additional programs.
“Some of the needs in terms of the coronavirus are increasing … so we’re going to even need more money, or else we’re going to have to cut some more things down further to stay [at $2.2 trillion],” she added. “But I’m eager to hear what [the White House negotiators] have to say when they come.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), speaking on the House floor Thursday, said that he is “very hopeful that we will have either an agreement or a bill that we can pass.”
And earlier this week, Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell both said that to further U.S. economic recovery, more stimulus is needed. Mnuchin, in particular, singled out direct stimulus checks.
Both the House and Senate are slated to be in session next week, although meetings on the stimulus deal have not been announced.