House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for an hour on a possible COVID-19 stimulus deal, but haven’t come to an agreement, according to Pelosi’s spokesperson.
“The two discussed the justifications for various numbers and plan to exchange paper today in preparation for another phone call tomorrow,” Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill wrote on Twitter on Oct. 5, adding that the two “spoke by phone today at 11:30 a.m. for approximately 1 hour.”
After restarting talks in late July, the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement on various provisions, including funding for states and cities, liability coverage for businesses, and unemployment benefits. Further complicating the matter is the COVID-19 diagnosis of President Donald Trump and three Republican senators.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced over the weekend that the upper chamber would be out of session until Oct. 19, adding that he doesn’t believe a deal will be made with Pelosi. The House of Representatives last week also left Washington for district work.
Hammill added in a Twitter post that Pelosi tested negative for the virus on Oct. 5.
Pelosi on Oct. 4 told “Meet the Press” that she’s optimistic about the possibility of another deal, saying, “We’re making progress.”
Earlier this year, the White House and Congress approved a mostly bipartisan deal called the CARES Act that authorized $1,200 stimulus checks, $600-per-week unemployment benefits, Payment Protection Program loans, and other measures.
In recent days, Democrats proposed the $2.2 trillion update to the HEROES Act, passing it in the House last week. Republicans largely rejected the measure, and the White House offered a $1.6 trillion compromise.
“This bill recycles the same socialist wish list that was offered in the Heroes Act, which House Republicans overwhelmingly rejected,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) wrote in a memo to other Republicans before the vote last week.
Trump over the weekend urged Congress to pass a stimulus deal while he was being treated at Walter Reed hospital in Maryland.
“OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. Thank you!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Oct. 3.
Pelosi said on Oct. 2 that “strong action” is required to offset the damage caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, pointing to the need for expanded unemployment insurance payments, funding for state and local governments, appropriations, and more. While her statement didn’t mention stimulus payments, Mnuchin and other Democratic officials have long signaled support for the program.
The speaker also said that with Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, it “kind of changes the dynamic” on the stimulus legislation.