Coronavirus stimulus checks: Lawmakers ‘very close’ on striking a deal

Many expected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to finally come up with a deal on Monday, following negotiations last week. The two talked for an hour on Monday, but didn’t come close enough to reach a deal on the coronavirus stimulus package and checks. Both, however, have agreed to talk again on Tuesday.

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Lawmakers 'close' on coronavirus stimulus checks deal

Pelosi and Mnuchin spent an hour on the phone on Monday, justifying the various amounts they proposed in their proposal, a spokesperson for Pelosi informed in a tweet. The spokesperson also informed that the two will “exchange paper today in preparation for another phone call tomorrow.”

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Since last week, the two have been making efforts, what seems like a final push, to come up with an agreement before the November election. Though Pelosi and Mnuchin have made progress lately, they still have differences on a range of issues, such as unemployment benefits, aid to states and local governments and more.

The deal, however, looks close now. Speaking to Fox Business on Monday, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn) said the lawmakers are “very close” to reaching a deal and there is some “tactical maneuvering” that is happening. Green suggested that Republican’s are concerned about the trillions of dollars that are yet unspent from the CARES Act.

Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin did come up with a deal sometime this week, they would still have to draft a package that could pass the Republican-held Senate. The Senate Republicans are not in favor of an expensive relief package, and last month introduced a relief package costing about $600 billion.

Speaking to CNBC, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said there “continue to be discussions, and I hope we can get a solution.” Talking about Democrat’s proposal, Barrasso said it “goes way beyond what we need to do to fight coronavirus.” Barrasso specifically pointed out the $600 per week unemployment benefit, saying it would deter people from going back to work.

What’s the current situation?

The talks on Monday were the first after House Democrats approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Thursday night. This bill, also called HEROES Act 2.0, offers $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits, $1,200 coronavirus stimulus checks and $436 billion in aid to states and local governments.

In response to this, Mnuchin offered a package costing $1.6 trillion. This bill includes $400 per week in unemployment benefits and $250 billion in aid to states and local governments. It also includes liability protection for businesses, which is a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats, however, oppose the liability protection, suggesting it would make it difficult for people to sue businesses. These are the differences that Pelosi and Mnuchin are expected to resolve this week.