“Our conversation was positive. “We will be back together tomorrow to see how we can find common ground on how, again, we help the state and local government play their part,” Pelosi told Mnuchin on MSNBC on Tuesday.
The leaders of both parties have tried and failed to reach a new agreement on coronavirus assistance since early August. But the talks have been at a bitter impasse for weeks, with Pelosi and Mnuchin talking only for most of September, let alone trading deals.
The two are now making a final attempt to resume talks, although both chambers have only a few days left in the pre-recess session and the Senate is absorbed in a battle for the Supreme Court. It also remains unclear how Democrats and Republicans will address some of the biggest milestones in recent months.
Democrats, for example, have called for help from state and local governments, which have seen revenue fall during the pandemic. Republicans have dismissed it as non-central.
The bill introduced by Pelosi on Monday is a scaled-down version of the huge $ 3.4 trillion Heroes Act passed by the House in May. The bill was opposed by Republicans, who rejected the cost and instead called for a halt to coronavirus talks for much of the summer.
The latest version of the House includes $ 436 billion in state and local government assistance, $ 75 billion in aid for Koran virus testing and nationwide contact detection, restores expired federal unemployment benefits, and provides another round of payments most Americans. The bill also provides additional relief for airlines, restaurants and small businesses that are not covered by Heroes legislation.
Pelosi’s decision to introduce a smaller relief package for coronaviruses comes after weeks of resistance, despite central Democrats and some senior lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, publicly proposing the idea.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Sumer (DN.Y.) had previously rejected the proposal, saying it only weakens the Democrats’ negotiating hand in talks with Republicans. Republican leaders, meanwhile, have insisted they will not go beyond a $ 1.5 trillion relief package, keeping the two sides far apart in the talks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Has questioned the chances of Congress approving any relief package before the election. Instead, McConnell is focusing on securing Amy Coney Barrett confirmation in the High Court before the election.
However, some centrist House Democrats believed that another, narrower bill could remind voters that their Capitol side was at least trying to offer more relief, even if the measure did not completely resume talks with Republicans.
“Passing a bilateral COVID-19 relief package should be our first priority in the coming days,” a group of moderate Democrats wrote in letter to Pelosi and Hoyer this week.
Jake Sherman contributed to this report.