House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues that President Donald Trump’s latest stimulus proposal falls short of what’s needed to shore up the economic recovery and battle the coronavirus.
The letter, dated Tuesday, offered the clearest sign yet that Trump’s newfound openness to a bigger coronavirus relief package, since his sudden withdrawal from talks a week ago, isn’t sufficient to secure a deal.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated over the weekend on the administration’s new $1.8 trillion proposal. No talks were announced Monday, and it’s unclear when or whether they’ll resume.
“Tragically, the Trump proposal falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand,” Pelosi said in Tuesday’s letter. “Significant changes must be made to remedy the Trump proposal’s deficiencies.”
With three weeks to go until Election Day, Trump sought in recent days to re-energize the stimulus talks, upping his offer from a $1.6 trillion plan. But it’s still short of the $2.2 trillion bill from House Democrats, and the two sides remain far apart on several issues of policy, including how to deploy health care aid and apportion tax credits.
“A fly on the wall or wherever else it might land in the Oval Office tells me that the President only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up,” Pelosi wrote.
The speaker noted that Trump had sent his team back into stimulus negotiations last week after his withdrawal on Tuesday triggered a sell-off in the equity market.
Stocks have since recovered, though they were down Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously warned that some in the GOP won’t back another large stimulus package, has said there probably isn’t enough time to get any deal passed before the election.
Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows briefed some Senate Republicans on aspects of the president’s offer on Saturday, but they were told any deal that ends up around $2 trillion is too much, according to people familiar with the discussion. One person said the proposal would get few GOP votes without major changes.
“We were not told what’s in the package. We talked about an amount,” Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters on Monday. “I haven’t seen the bill.”
Pelosi has a caucus-wide conference call at noon Tuesday with her Democratic colleagues, some of whom have been urging her to make a deal.
The speaker is seeking to tamp down any restlessness among Democrats to take what the White House is offering after Trump enlarged his proposal. On Sunday she called the administration’s offer a “miserable and deadly failure.” Trump accused her of dragging out talks in an attempt to “influence the election.”
“People in need can’t wait until February. 1.8 trillion is significant & more than twice Obama stimulus,” California Democratic Representative Ro Khanna wrote on Twitter. “Make a deal & put the ball in McConnell court.”
Former Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang said, “Congress please pass this for the American people. Nancy Pelosi say yes – this is a big win for millions of families who are hurting right now.”
The speaker has been deploying her lieutenants to explain why the White House’s proposal isn’t worth accepting.
Five committee chairs in recent days released statements supporting Pelosi’s bargaining position, detailing topic-by-topic what they view as wrong with the offer — including failure to adopt the Democrats’ child tax credit, insufficient childcare help and not enough support for some small businesses.
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