Mnuchin says he offered Pelosi $916B coronavirus relief deal with Trump’s approval
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that he offered Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a $916 billion coronavirus relief deal as both parties race to strike a deal before the end of 2020.
In a statement, Mnuchin said he pitched Pelosi Tuesday afternoon on a deal backed by President Trump and marginally more expensive than the $908 billion bipartisan package the Speaker endorsed with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“I look forward to achieving this bipartisan agreement so we can provide critical economic relief to American workers, families and businesses,” Mnuchin said.
But Pelosi and Schumer pushed back on the offer in a joint statement, saying it impeded the progress of bipartisan negotiations and cut support for unemployment benefits to an “unacceptable” level.
Mnuchin said the White House proposal includes support for state and local businesses — a top Democratic priority — and liability protections for businesses Republicans have insisted on including in a deal.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters at the Capitol that the offer also included direct payments to households, expanded aid to small businesses and funding for vaccine distribution.
“It focuses on the things that needs to be there,” McCarthy said. “I don’t see a reason why Pelosi should be opposed to it.”
Mnuchin said that the deal would be funded through $140 billion in unused funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and $429 billion from the Treasury, which is roughly equivalent to the total set to be pulled from Federal Reserve lending facilities per Mnuchin’s request.
Mnuchin said he also reviewed the proposal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The White House offer comes as lawmakers and the administration face a Dec. 31 deadline to extend crucial coronavirus relief programs and an ever earlier deadline to fund the government.
Trump and congressional leaders in both parties all agree that another round of economic aid is essential to support the U.S. economy through what could be the most excruciating stage of the pandemic.
Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have shattered records throughout the country over the past two months and are expected to climb higher thanks to holiday travel and colder weather.
The price tag of Trump’s proposal will be little concern for House Democrats, who passed another $3 trillion aid package over the summer, though cost alone is not enough to win the support of the party. Democrats have insisted that a deal include substantial support for state and local governments as well as funding for unemployment insurance and coronavirus testing.
McConnell and many Senate Republicans have also been wary to vote for a bill larger than the $500 billion measure the majority has proposed, but several GOP senators have pushed their colleagues to accept a more expensive package in lieu of no agreement at all.
–Updated at 8:19 p.m.