Meadows says Trump willing to sign $1.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Friday that President Trump would sign a coronavirus relief package totaling $1.3 trillion, an increase over the $1.1 trillion proposed by Senate Republicans.
“The president right now is willing to sign something at $1.3 trillion,” Meadows told reporters at the White House, saying that the figure had been offered privately to Democrats. He had previously said the White House was willing to go “north” of $1 trillion but did not offer a precise figure.
He said, however, that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has stood firm in her demand for a $2.2 trillion relief package.
Meadows and Pelosi spoke Thursday afternoon, resuming negotiations on the next coronavirus package that have been stalled for three weeks. Pelosi said Thursday that she offered Meadows a concession by proposing a $2.2 trillion bill, down from a $2.4 trillion offer earlier this month.
“We have said again and again that we’re willing to come down and meet them in the middle — that would be $2.2 trillion — and when they’re ready to do that, we’ll be ready to discuss and negotiate the particulars,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol following the phone call with Meadows.
The disagreements largely center over the amount in funding for enhanced unemployment insurance benefits and assistance for state and local governments.
Talks between Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) broke down in early August, causing Trump to sign a spate of executive orders aimed at deferring the payroll tax, putting a federal pause on evictions and extending the lapsed enhanced unemployment benefits for a period of time.
Meadows on Friday said it is “incumbent on us to act,” placing the blame on Pelosi for holding up negotiations by not agreeing to a smaller relief package that would cover areas where they have agreement.
“We not only need to help with enhanced unemployment but small businesses, aid to schools, making sure that daycare provisions are augmented in this unprecedented time,” he said.
In May, House Democrats approved a $3.4 trillion relief bill. Senate Republicans unveiled a $1.1 trillion counterproposal at the end of July, when negotiations on the fifth package kicked off.
—Jordain Carney contributed.
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