White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that the Democrats’ bill to fund the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may suggest that negotiators are willing to approve a CCP virus relief package.
Meadows, a former Republican congressman, said on Aug. 19 that he’s optimistic that the USPS measure soon to be taken up by the House is a sign that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would warm to passing a series of smaller bills to offset economic damage caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. They are slated to vote on the Postal Service bill on Aug. 22.
“Let’s add in the things that we can agree upon, perhaps funding for schools, [Paycheck Protection Program], maybe the stimulus checks,” he told reporters. “If that’s indicative of what Speaker Pelosi might bring to the floor, I’m encouraged.”
Talks between Pelosi, Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have largely stalled over a broader pandemic deal. Pelosi has expressed an unwillingness to pass stimulus legislation in a “piecemeal” manner, but on Aug. 18, she suggested that Democrats are willing to pare their $3.4 trillion HEROES Act to come to a deal.
“We have to try to come to that agreement now,” Pelosi said in an interview with Politico. “We’re willing to cut our bill in half to meet the needs right now. We’ll take it up again in January. We’ll see them again in January. But for now, we can cut the bill in half.”
Republicans in late July offered a $1 trillion bill known as the HEALS Act. Notably, the measure would omit funding for state and local governments, while the Democrats’ HEROES Act included nearly $1 trillion in funding for those localities.
Republicans said the extra funding for state and local governments would be tantamount to a “bailout” of “poorly run” jurisdictions. President Donald Trump has been an especially vocal critic of that proposal in recent days.
Trump last week wrote on Twitter that he directed Mnuchin to ready $1,200 stimulus payments for individuals, and $3,400 for a family of four. He also said that Democratic leaders were the ones holding up a deal.
Mnuchin, in his latest update to reporters, said on Aug. 18 that talks are still stalled.
“Speaker Pelosi is coming back to look at Postal; hopefully, she’ll be more interested in sitting down,” he said in an interview.
“We started with a trillion dollars, we agreed to increase that in several areas in an effort to compromise,” he said, referring to the HEALS Act. “They didn’t come down, they never made us a proposal at $2 trillion, they never gave us a line-by-line counter.”