President Donald Trump on Tuesday ended ongoing negotiations over the next relief bill, but on Thursday, he claimed the talks are back on. Following Trump’s claim, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked on Thursday on the possibility of a broad coronavirus stimulus package, which will include stimulus check among other things.
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Pelosi and Mnuchin talked over the phone on Thursday for about 40 minutes. As per Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill, the two talked about “whether there is any prospect of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill.”
Further, Hammill said Mnuchin cleared that Trump is in favor of a comprehensive relief package. This broad relief package is expected to cover a range of benefits, such as aid for state and local governments, aid to airlines, unemployment benefits and coronavirus stimulus checks.
Pelosi, however, questioned the mixed signals coming from the White House, referring to the comments from Alyssa Farah, White House communications director. On Thursday, Farah cast doubts on Trump’s intention to support a comprehensive coronavirus relief package.
Speaking to reporters, Farah said that the White House intends to focus on coronavirus stimulus checks, aid for airlines, and small business loans but not as “part of a larger package.”
Hammill, however, noted that Pelosi trusts Mnuchin’s word that Trump wants a broad package. “The Speaker trusts that the Secretary speaks for the President,” Hammill tweeted.
Later, Farah also cleared that the White House is open to “something bigger,” but said they are not “going to operate from the $2.2 trillion that the speaker laid out.”
Pelosi doesn’t want standalone bills
Though Pelosi resumed talks on the stimulus package on Thursday, she also doused hopes of standalone bills. She recently talked about sending aid to airlines to prevent tens of thousands of furloughs, but on Thursday, she favored a comprehensive plan.
Pelosi said she is willing to support aid for the airlines industry, but it must go along with the broader legislation that includes other things as well. She specifically talked about COVID testing, tracing and health practices that Democrats have been demanding.
“There is not going to be a stand-alone bill unless there is a bigger bill,” said Pelosi. “Why should we do one without the other?”
Trump, after he ended negotiations on Tuesday, urged Congress to come up with standalone bills for the airlines, paycheck protection program and $1,200 coronavirus stimulus checks. Democrats, however, made it clear that they won’t follow a piecemeal approach until Trump agrees to a broader bill.
The House Democrats recently approved the so-called HEROES Act 2.0 costing about $2.2 trillion, down from the original price of over $3 trillion. On the other hand, the White House last made a counteroffer of $1.6 trillion, which was rejected by Pelosi.
Nevertheless, with Pelosi and Mnuchin back at the table, hopes of another round of coronavirus stimulus checks before the election are back as well.