WASHINGTON—In a renewed push to pass an economic relief package before the November elections, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Friday made a $1.8 trillion offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just days after President Trump said negotiations were over, the Washington Post reports.
“COVID Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Trump said in a Tweet Friday. Speaking on conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s radio program later Friday, Trump said “I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering.” Trump said, “I would like to see money going to people.”
Pelosi had dismissed the Trump Administration’s prior offer of a $1.6 trillion package as paltry and had pushed for a $2.2 trillion bill. Democrats last week passed a $2.2 trillion aid package, a pared-down version of their earlier $3.5 trillion bill. One of the top legislative priorities for NACS was omitted from that package—liability protections from COVID-19 related lawsuits for businesses who acted responsibly during the crisis.
The latest White House proposal contains new aid for small businesses and airlines, $1,200 stimulus checks and unemployment assistance, according to White House adviser Larry Kudlow. There’s also about $75 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing.
Republicans, meanwhile, seem cool to the idea of passing a package before the November elections.
In the Senate, Republican leaders have warned that any bill larger than $1 trillion would be a hard sell for many GOP senators. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also is preparing to start confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told the Post that “a lot of conservatives are concerned about excessive spending,” despite supporting the president. “Until we get liability protection and spending under control I don’t think a lot of conservatives will be real excited to vote for another stimulus package,” Comer told the Post.
Other GOP senators urged agreement. Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), who is facing a tight re-election race, said on Twitter, “I’m hopeful Congress can come together once again—Rs and Ds—and provide more support to hardworking Americans.”
In the House, Reps. Tom Reed (R., N.Y.) and Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.), co-chairmen of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said in a joint statement Friday, “Now that the negotiators are back at the table, let’s get a bipartisan deal across the finish line.”