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Mnuchin to testify as COVID-19 relief impasse drags on

Mnuchin to testify as COVID-19 relief impasse drags on
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocrats call Trump's COVID-19 response 'among the worst failures of leadership in American history' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, Biden set for weekend swing state sprint Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' MORE is slated to testify Tuesday afternoon before the special House committee investigating the federal response to the coronavirus crisis as a stalemate continues over a new emergency relief package for struggling workers, cities and states.

Democrats on the panel, led by Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.), are expected to grill Mnuchin on why the Trump administration has proposed figures for the next round of stimulus that Democrats have blasted as inadequate to meet the needs of suffering Americans.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion package back in May.

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Mnuchin will likely point to plans by Senate Republicans to vote next week on a more “focused” and narrowly tailored coronavirus package — known as a “skinny” bill — to counter the Democratic criticism.

Mnuchin’s appearance marks the first time he will testify before Congress since negotiations stalled between Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (D-Calif.) and the White House more than three weeks ago.

On Monday, the Treasury secretary took a jab at Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerReestablishing American prosperity by investing in the 'Badger Belt' House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs MORE (D-N.Y.), saying they have refused to come back to the negotiating table. They “just don’t want to negotiate in good faith. They’ve refused to meet,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business.

However, there has been some movement in recent days. Pelosi’s offer to White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDemocrats call Trump's COVID-19 response 'among the worst failures of leadership in American history' Winter COVID-19 wave poses threat to nation's hospitals Critics blast 'two-faced liar' Miles Taylor after revelation as NYT 'anonymous' author MORE last week was a $2.2 trillion package, down from $2.4 trillion. Meadows said President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE could agree to a $1.3 trillion deal, up from $1.1 trillion. But that still leaves the two parties nearly $1 trillion apart.

Pelosi told rank-and-file Democrats on a conference call Monday night that the big sticking point is hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for cities, counties and states that have seen their tax-revenue streams dry up in the pandemic. Democrats want more aid and Republicans less as state and local governments contemplate mass layoffs.

Mnuchin is expected to testify in person on Capitol Hill. Clyburn and several other lawmakers also will be on hand, though some are expected to join remotely.