WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — We’re hoping to get an update Tuesday on coronavirus aid package negotiations when U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears before a House of Representatives panel investigating the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The hearing focuses on the “urgent need for additional economic relief for children, workers, and families and the Administration’s implementation of key stimulus programs,” according to an agenda from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
As we enter September, there’s not much movement on another aid package, which is expected to include a second stimulus check for most Americans.
On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pointed the finger at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the reason nothing has been done.
“She puts forth a number, suggests that she came down, and yet she’s willing to turn down $1.3 trillion of help that goes to the American people because she would rather them have nothing than to give way on what her fantasy might be,” said Meadows.
During an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Meadows referred to the fact that Pelosi said Democrats would be willing to meet halfway — at $2.2 trillion — a slight reduction from her last proposal before talks collapsed in early August. The White House initially offered a $1 trillion deal.
“The $1.3 trillion package would also include funding for schools, childcare, and hospitals “at levels (Pelosi) would agree with,” Meadows added.
The problem right now: both sides are about $1 trillion away from each other.
“We have said again and again that we’re willing to meet them in the middle — $2.2 trillion. When they’re willing to do that, we’ll be willing to discuss the particulars,” Pelosi told reporters last week at the Capitol.
When the two sides couldn’t agree to terms earlier this month on a wide-ranging package expected to include $1,200 stimulus checks, Trump took actions into his own hands — issuing four executive orders designed to give a temporary reprieve, offering $300 in jobless benefits and some other aid.
Those executive orders did not include many things Democrats were pushing for, including money for cash-strapped states, housing, and jobless assistance, to help schools reopen and to conduct more widespread virus testing.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged last week that talks are in a “stalemate.” However, he remained hopeful for a deal.
“We need another one. The country needs another one,” he said during a visit to a hospital in Pikeville, Kentucky.
Congress is on recess until after Labor Day, and it appears unlikely lawmakers will be recalled to Washington unless there is a deal ready for voting. Talks are nowhere near resolution and in fact, broadening to include Postal Service funds before the November election. Also, a need for new disaster aid is expected with the Gulf state hurricanes and California wildfires.
The idea of a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks has bipartisan support, with Trump even saying the amount could go higher.
“I’d like to see it be very high because I love the people. I want the people to get it, you know, the economy is going to come back,” Trump said during a July visit to West Texas. “We saved millions of lives, but now we’re bringing (the economy) back … we gotta take care of the people in the meantime.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.