President Donald Trump cast doubt on the prospects of White House and congressional negotiators sealing a bipartisan deal on a stimulus package, accusing top Democrats of reluctance to compromise on aid to states and cities, which the president and his allies have often referred to as “bailouts.”
Trump’s tweet came shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said in a tweet that Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had spoken for 48 minutes and their conversation “brings us closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation.”
Pelosi said earlier that a key provision sought by Democrats, money to help state and local governments, remained unresolved. Democrats have insisted on $500 billion in relief to state and local governments, while the White House has offered half that.
While Republicans and Democrats mostly agree that another stimulus measure is necessary to boost the economy following months of pandemic-induced lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, the two sides have disagreed over both the size of the bill and specific measures. Besides aid to state and local governments, sticking points include the amount of federal unemployment benefits and business liability protections.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), said a “big bone of contention” was the Democrats’ insistence on aid to state and local governments, saying he objected to the idea that some states with budget problems would be “bailed out” by others.
“We want to get something passed, but having Montana taxpayers bail out California and New York is not the right thing to do,” he said.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday the Trump administration was now looking at $1.9 trillion in relief. The Democrats have been pushing for $2.2 trillion.
Senate Republicans have been opposed to a large stimulus bill, and on Wednesday sought to pass targeted relief worth $500 billion, which was blocked by Democrats who appear fixated on the larger package that addresses more of their spending priorities.
It was unclear whether the negotiations would continue or go dormant until after the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections.