Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) both confirmed that they have agreed to restart stimulus negotiations that have been in a stalemate for nearly two months.
“The president and I want more support,” Mnuchin said in his testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. “I've probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR, and we've agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act.”
Pelosi also confirmed that the stalled negotiations may resume soon.
“We will be hopefully soon to the table with them, very soon, showing you where our money wouldn’t be spent,” she told reporters on Thursday.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) are leading the Democratic side of the negotiations, while White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Mnuchin have been leading the Republican side after McConnell ceded the GOP side of negotiations to the White House in August.
After passing a stopgap spending measure to extend federal funding on Tuesday night, the two parties are expected to return to the negotiating table, but disagreements over the relief bill’s price tag and key provisions remain.
The Democratic plan passed in May — the HEROES Act — was initially worth over $3 trillion but was later trimmed down to $2.2 trillion. The initial proposal Republicans introduced was worth $1 trillion but their more recent proposal — which was rejected in the Senate — was worth just $300 billion.
‘Still haven't heard back’
The White House expressed support for a $1.5 trillion middle-ground stimulus proposal unveiled by a bipartisan group of House members, dubbed the Problem Solvers Caucus, and urged Republicans to increase the price tag of their $300 billion proposal, with the president tweeting: “go for the much higher numbers.”
The proposal introduced by a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans includes provisions such as aid to small businesses and schools, a second round of stimulus checks, an extension of extra unemployment benefits, and election aid.
When asked why the Republican party can’t go for a package with a bigger price tag, Mnuchin said that they should concentrate on the “areas of support,” instead of the size of the bill.
“It’s less of an issue of what the absolute numbers are,” Mnuchin said. “Let’s pass things that we agree on quickly and we can always come back and do more.”
At the same time, Democrats are holding at their latest $2.2 trillion price tag and have said that the $1.5 trillion middle-ground proposal is insufficient.
“We came down a trillion dollars in our $3.4 trillion bill and then we offered to meet the Republicans halfway,” Pelosi said on Thursday. “We still haven't heard back about that.”