Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin on Wednesday called it unlikely that an agreement would be reached between the Trump administration and House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on a U.S. economic stimulus package over the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the head of the Ministry of Finance added that an agreement is unlikely to be reached before the elections on November 3, and specified that he would continue to try to reach an agreement.
The White House, Democrats and Republicans in Congress are under growing public pressure over a fiscal stimulus arrangement to help ordinary Americans weather the aftermath of the pandemic, which killed nearly 216,000 people and wreaked havoc on the national economy.
However, negotiators cannot agree on several priorities. Senate Republicans, who have a majority there, have resisted the $ 1.8 trillion proposal made by Mnuchin last week, saying it was too much. Pelosi and her supporters, on the contrary, believe that this is not enough and continue to insist on the amount of $ 2.2 trillion.
Mnuchin, who spoke on the phone with Pelosi on Wednesday morning, admitted that he and the speaker are still “far from” agreement on some points.
“I would say that at this stage it will be difficult to do something before the elections and it will be difficult, given where we are and the level of detail, but we are going to continue working on these issues,” Mnuchin said, speaking at the World Conference Milken Institute in Washington DC.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, Mnuchin clarified that “we will continue to make efforts.”
“The president told me: keep going until you achieve this,” Mnuchin said. He added that a deal could be reached quickly if Pelosi compromises. “If we do not accept [законопроект об экономической помощи] now, we will get it passed shortly after the president wins the election. ”
Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Nancy Pelosi, on Wednesday called the talks productive, but added that the Trump administration’s lack of a nationwide coronavirus testing plan remains “a major cause of controversy.”
Minister Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi will be in touch again on Thursday, and their staff will continue to “exchange documents,” Hammill said.
Mnuchin said he did not agree with Pelosi’s approach to the deal on an all-or-nothing basis. He indicated that some $ 300 billion from previous aid packages have not been spent. Congress could immediately “realign” that money, including funds to help airlines, Mnuchin told Fox.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – the main Republican in Congress – said Tuesday that the Senate will vote next week on a $ 500 billion cut COVID-19 bill. Democrats blocked the proposal last month.
In March of this year, Congress allocated about three trillion dollars in various assistance in connection with the coronavirus epidemic, including the allocation of federal unemployment benefits.