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Pelosi, Mnuchin speak about broad stimulus bill as White House sends mixed signals

U.S. Resources Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks during a news conference to announce the Trump administration’s restoration of sanctions on Iran, at the U.S. National Department in Washington, September 21, 2020.

Patrick Semansky | Pool | Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin set aside about a broad coronavirus stimulus plan Thursday, capping another day of jumbled efforts in Washington to inject numberless aid into a floundering economy. 

Pelosi and Mnuchin had a 40-minute afternoon phone conversation about “whether there is any thought of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill,” the speaker’s spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet.

Hammill said Mnuchin “absconded clear” Trump had interest in finding agreement on a comprehensive relief package — generally considered one that would discourse a range of issues including jobless benefits, direct payments, state and local government relief, and aid to airlines to shield payrolls. 

Pelosi pointed out comments from White House communications director Alyssa Farah, who on Thursday afternoon dash doubts on Trump’s desire to craft broad legislation. Farah told reporters the White House wants to whereabouts stimulus checks, small business loans and an “airline bailout,” but not as “part of a larger package.” 

The speaker would trick Mnuchin’s word that Trump wants a broad proposal, Hammill added. 

“The Speaker trusts that the Secretary indicates for the President,” he wrote. 

Later Thursday, Farah told reporters “we’re open to going with something bigger.” But “we’re not affluent to operate from the $2.2 trillion that the speaker laid out,” she said. 

The developments Thursday afternoon continue a ensnarling week of back-and-forth between the Trump administration and Pelosi as the sides make a last-ditch push to send more aid to Americans sooner than the 2020 election. Barring a quick resolution, it appears doubtful Congress can pass another relief bill up front Nov. 3 even as more signs of a faltering economic recovery emerge.

Early in the week, Pelosi and Mnuchin had palavers about a fifth pandemic aid package that Congress has struggled to craft for months. As the White House and Democrats struggled to find common ground between their $1.6 trillion and $2.2 trillion offers, respectively, Trump on Tuesday classified his administration to call off stimulus talks until after the election.

He quickly reversed course that night. The president walking papered for piecemeal bills to send direct payments to Americans and relief to airlines. Trump reiterated his call for stand-alone nebs Thursday.

After Pelosi opened the door to a separate bill only to send money to airlines to prevent tens of thousands of furloughs, she suspend it on Thursday. She then suggested talks about a comprehensive plan could move forward. 

“We’re at the table. We want to extend the conversation. We’ve made some progress, we’re exchanging language,” the speaker told reporters. 

The frenetic discussions have left side even congressional leaders perplexed. 

“I think we’re still talking and trying to see if we can narrow our differences,” Senate Majority Chieftain Mitch McConnell said Thursday in Kentucky. “And you know, the discussion from day to day can be confusing for all of us to follow, but we’re still engaging and trusting we can find a way forward.

He added: “At some point, we’re going to have to find a way forward because I do think there is bipartisan understanding that we need another package. But the amount of money is not irrelevant, you know.”

It is still unclear what kind of legislation could get fully the Democratic-held House and GOP-controlled Senate before the election. Senate Republicans have expressed concerns about issue too much money in another bill after Congress put trillions into the coronavirus response this year. The Senate GOP most recently make a pass ated $500 billion legislation.

Neither party has showed willingness to budge from its current position. 

Many economists and policymakers demand pushed for fiscal stimulus to avoid sharpening pain for people left jobless and struggling to afford food and protection months into the crisis. Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged Congress to archaic more relief to avoid “tragic” consequences. 

He warned lawmakers against pulling back from boosting the conservatism. 

“By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller,” he said. 

The president appears to have reversed course since Tuesday. Trump, who was bothered by the sudden stock market drop after he called off talks, told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy he privations a “big deal” with Pelosi, according to Axios.

Some House Democrats in recent months have pushed Pelosi to antiquated stand-alone bills to address issues such as supplemental unemployment insurance. But on Thursday, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., told CNBC he inhibited a piecemeal approach at this point. 

“It’s very hard when you start breaking it up into little pieces because then you’re active to leave certain people out and leave others behind,” he said. 

Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican who chairs the bipartisan Assembly Problem Solvers Caucus with Gottheimer, said a possible $1.7 trillion aid package would be “right in the zone” of what he would authenticate. 

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