Mnuchin Casts Fresh Doubt On Comprehensive Stimulus Deal Before Election
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Wednesday said that it “would be difficult” to reach a comprehensive deal on the next coronavirus relief bill with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before the November 3 election—meanwhile, with critical relief measures established by the CARES Act long expired, millions of Americans remain out of work.
The two top negotiators spoke by phone on Wednesday morning for about an hour and are currently trying to reach a middle ground between two competing plans (a $1.8 trillion offer from the White House and a $2.2 trillion plan that Democrats passed in the House at the beginning of the month).
According to a spokesman for Pelosi, a major sticking point in negotiations on Wednesday morning had to do with a comprehensive coronavirus testing and tracing plan.
Pelosi has been unhappy with the legislative language surrounding the plan, and has said that the $45 billion in new funding the Trump Administration has offered is insufficient.
Mnuchin on Wednesday emphasized that there are points of disagreement that remain beyond the top-line cost of the bill.
“At this point, getting something done before the election and executing on [it] would be difficult,” Mnuchin said Wednesday at a conference sponsored by the Milken Institute.
Negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin—who is representing the interests of the Trump Administration, along with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows—have in recent days been characterized by the question of whether “something” might be better than “nothing” when it comes to the next relief bill. Pelosi has repeatedly said she won’t accept the White House’s offer just to get some form of aid out to Americans right away. She’s characterized that move as a “missed opportunity” and has maintained that what the Trump Administration is offering “falls significantly short” of what is needed during the pandemic. On Wednesday, Mnuchin said he doesn‘t agree with that all-or-nothing approach: “We’re continuing to negotiate a comprehensive bill, but we want to put money into the economy now.”
Over the weekend, Mnuchin and Meadows sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to vote on a bill that would authorize the use of the roughly $135 billion that is left in the Paycheck Protection Program, the popular forgivable loan program aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the economic slowdown, as a stopgap while negotiators continue to hash out a broader bill. The PPP stopped accepting new applications in early August after being renewed once by Congress.
What To Watch For
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday the Republican-led Senate will vote on October 19 on a pared-down relief bill—much smaller than either plan proposed by Democrats and the White House. The last “skinny” bill put forward by the GOP was blocked by Democrats and failed to clear the Senate.
Pelosi Says Democrats Still Won’t Accept $1.8 Trillion White House Stimulus Offer (Forbes)
McConnell Says Senate Will Vote On ‘Targeted’ Stimulus Bill As Trump Pushes For A Bigger Deal—Again (Forbes)
Trump Pushes For Speedy Supreme Court Confirmation So Lawmakers Can Approve Stimulus, But A Deal Is Still A Long Way Off (Forbes)
White House Says Republicans Will ‘Come Along With’ What Trump Wants On Stimulus (Forbes)