Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but reach no deal

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, center, speaks to members of the media as she walks to her office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.

Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for about an hour Monday but emerged from a phone call with no coronavirus stimulus deal.

The pair expects to talk again Tuesday as the White House and Democratic leaders try to craft an elusive fifth pandemic relief package, Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet. Pelosi and Mnuchin plan to exchange more details about their proposals Monday, he added. 

Drew Hammill tweet

The sides have made a final push in recent days to strike an aid agreement and pass legislation before the Nov. 3 election. While Pelosi and Mnuchin seem to have made progress toward a deal, they had a range of outstanding disagreements heading into the weekend. 

The millions of Americans still out of work during the pandemic await more relief from Washington after several financial lifelines set up during the outbreak expired weeks ago. Economists have worried a lack of new fiscal stimulus will stunt a slowing U.S. economic recovery.

Lawmakers also aim to bolster efforts to test Americans for the virus, treat Covid-19 and develop an effective vaccine as the country still reports tens of thousands of new cases per day.

Optimism about the prospects of a relief deal helped to boost the U.S. stock market on Monday. President Donald Trump, fighting off Covid-19 himself, put pressure on Congress to pass aid legislation over the weekend.

Trump has largely stayed out of the talks between the White House and Congress. 

The coming days will likely determine whether lawmakers can approve another stimulus package before the election. Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin can strike a deal, they will need to craft a plan that can earn enough support to get through the Republican-held Senate. 

Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill last week. It would reinstate the $600 per week in extra jobless benefits through January, send another $1,200 direct payment to most Americans, direct $436 billion in aid to states and municipalities and authorize a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for hard-hit small businesses, among a bevy of other provisions. 

Mnuchin previously put forward a $1.6 trillion plan. Among the key differences, the Trump administration offer would include $400 weekly in extra unemployment insurance, $250 billion in state and local government relief and liability protections for businesses. Democrats oppose a legal shield for companies.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said “there continue to be discussions, and I hope we can get a solution.” The third-ranking Senate Republican said the Democratic plan “goes way beyond what we need to do to fight coronavirus.” 

He pointed in particular to the proposal for $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, arguing it would deter people from returning to work. 

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