Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about pandemic relief funding, saying that she remains hopeful that the two sides can come to an agreement in the days ahead.
According to her spokesperson, Drew Hammill, Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke for about one hour over the phone. It came hours after House Democrats unveiled their $2.2 trillion update to the HEROES Act, which includes $600-per-week unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and small business loans.
Hammill wrote that “the two went over the provisions of the updated Heroes Act and agreed to speak again tomorrow.”
“Our conversation was a positive one,” Pelosi said in a televised interview on Tuesday morning. “We’ll get back together tomorrow to see how we can find common ground.”
Pelosi said she is holding out on a deal before scheduling a vote on COVID-19 aid.
“We’re in a negotiation and hopefully we will come to a bipartisan agreement that would remove all doubt that the legislation will be passed and be signed by the president,” she said. “That’s my goal, that we come to agreement so that we can put money in the pockets of the American people.”
Democrats’ $2.2 trillion bill is down from the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that was passed in the House in May. Republicans in the Senate have not taken the measure up, saying there are a number of measures that are not related to the pandemic.
“When we reduced it, we didn’t take out priorities,” Pelosi said Tuesday. “We just reduced the timeline as to how long those benefits would last.”
Starting on Thursday, a number of major airline companies are scheduled to furlough their employees and have requested stimulus aid.
“That’s a date certain … Sept. 30. So we want to move quickly on this,” Pelosi said. “Let’s be on the positive side,” she added. “The needs are great, and it’s just a question of money.”
According to the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Appropriations, the new bill unveiled on Monday night will provide “strong support” for small businesses that have been impacted during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
On the table is “additional assistance for airline industry workers, extending the highly successful Payroll Support Program to keep airline industry workers paid,” they said, adding that more funds will be provided to education, payments to vital workers, testing and treatment funding, worker safety, and other measures.
The bill also includes $1,200 direct payments to individuals and $500 per dependent. That’s down from the $1,200 for dependents, which was included in the first HEROES Act.
President Donald Trump on Sept. 18 called on the GOP to pass a bill worth more than $500 billion, said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Americans “desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China,” Trump wrote at the time on Twitter. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”