Mnuchin: $1 trillion is GOP starting point for coronavirus talks
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that Republicans view $1 trillion as their starting point for the upcoming negotiations on coronavirus relief legislation.
“We’re focused on starting with another trillion. We think that will make a big impact. The focus is … really about kids and jobs and vaccines,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House.
The GOP price tag is likely to creep up, as previous coronavirus bills have, but it underscores the significant differences awaiting negotiators as they try to craft a deal on a fifth relief package.
House Democrats passed a bill in late May, largely along party lines, that provided nearly $3 trillion in additional aid.
Some have estimated that the initial GOP offer could end up around $1.3 trillion, slightly higher than Mnuchin’s estimate. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says that number is too low.
“They went from zero to now $1.3 [trillion]. That’s not enough, we need more. But we see the public evolution of their thinking,” Pelosi told reporters late last week.
Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will come to the Capitol on Tuesday to brief Republican senators on the forthcoming GOP proposal after swapping ideas during the two-week break.
“Mark and I will be meeting tomorrow with the Republicans at a lunch to give them a full briefing, and then we will also be reaching out to the Democrats to begin our discussions,” Mnuchin said, adding that they were “committed” to getting a bill done by the end of the month.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Friday that there had been no outreach from McConnell or Mnuchin about the next bill. Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass legislation through the Senate, and previous coronavirus packages have largely been negotiated between McConnell, Mnuchin and congressional Democratic leadership.
Several areas of difference between the two parties remain, including additional funding for state and local governments, worker protections and additional food assistance.
“We have not heard a peep from McConnell or the Republicans or the administration on any proposal,” Schumer said.