House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will seek a coronavirus stimulus deal Thursday as further troubles emerge in the U.S. economic recovery.
After the two met in person on Wednesday to work out a fifth pandemic relief package, they said they would continue negotiations to reach an agreement. The House, which wanted to pass a $ 2.2 trillion Democratic bill on Wednesday night, delayed the vote until at least Thursday to give Pelosi and Mnuchin more time to work out a bipartisan plan that will go through both houses of Congress could.
It was unclear on Thursday morning whether the spokesperson and secretary would meet again in person. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken out against Democratic legislation, which means it is unlikely to get through the Republican-led chamber.
Pelosi sounded "frustrated" and "cheered" as he spoke about the state of the discussions during a conference call with Democratic Whips Thursday, a source who listened told NBC News. The spokeswoman said the GOP does not "share our values" or want to put what it sees as needed money in state and local governments and healthcare, the source said.
During Wednesday's meeting, Mnuchin offered a $ 1.6 trillion proposal – up from $ 1.3 trillion the White House accepted, according to NBC News. It includes $ 250 billion for state and local aid, $ 400 per week for additional unemployment benefits, $ 150 billion for education, $ 75 billion for Covid-19 testing and contact tracing, and $ 60 billion for rental and mortgage assistance, NBC reported.
Speaking to reporters after calling the Democratic Whip, Pelosi said she "hoped" the House would vote on its stimulus plan on Thursday. While acknowledging that Democrats and Republicans are "far away" on issues such as state and local aid, the spokeswoman did not rule out the possibility of an agreement.
"Hopefully we can find our similarities here and do so soon," she said.
Efforts to reinvigorate the auxiliary discussions follow weeks of pessimism about the ability of Congress to boost the US economy and health care system ahead of the November 3 election. Legislature has not approved any new bailouts in months as Democrats and Republicans argue over how a package is structured.
The outbreak continues to spread across the country, with an average of nearly 43,000 new cases per day for seven days in the US. At the same time, many workers and companies are faltering as restrictions remain in place to slow the pandemic.
Initial jobless claims fell to 837,000 last week, a figure that is still higher than anything seen in recent American memory before the March shutdown. At the same time, American Airlines and United Airlines will be taking more than 32,000 workers together on vacation to receive federal aid.
Each stimulus contract is expected to be worth $ 25 billion to help airlines meet labor costs. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday that the Trump administration would consider a standalone airline bill – despite Pelosi repeatedly declining anything other than a full bailout package.
Companies like Disney and Royal Dutch Shell also announced plans to lay off employees this week.
Democrats and Republicans may have a hard time negotiating wide disagreements about how best to respond to the crisis. On Wednesday, McConnell said the sides were "very far apart".
Among the differences, the Democrats have called for more than $ 400 billion in state and local aid – more than the $ 250 billion that the White House is offering. They have also tried to roll the additional unemployment benefit back to $ 600 per week, as opposed to the $ 400 proposed by the Trump administration.
Republicans also want corporate liability coverage that rejects Democrats.
Vulnerable Republicans and Democrats, due to be re-elected in November, have spurred their party leaders to take concrete action to respond to the crisis. Pelosi on Thursday downplayed the prospect of a more targeted plan, as some House Democrats have urged them to do.
"Isn't something better than nothing? No," she said.
Pelosi denied that the current round of talks was the last chance to provide relief before election day. She was asked what supports her optimism about an agreement, although there are signs that Democrats and Republicans are far from reaching an agreement.
"Because of the needs of the American people. I think at some point they need to know that the American people have those needs," Pelosi said.
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