WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — White House negotiators and Democratic leaders are set to return to the bargaining table in hopes of hashing out a wide-ranging coronavirus aid package that many expect to include a second round of direct payments to most of Americans.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to revive talks and try to work through a bill.
“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the coronavirus relief and we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” Mnuchin said in a Senate Banking Committee meeting Thursday.
According to the Hill, Pelosi backed up Mnuchin’s comments telling reporters, “we’ll be hopefully soon to the table with them.”
The development comes as House Democrats announced plans to pass a $2.4 trillion relief measure next week to demonstrate that the party isn’t giving up on passing virus relief before the election.
The chamber passed a $3.4 trillion rescue measure in May but Republicans dismissed the package as bloated and unrealistic. Even as Democrats cut their ambitions back by $1 trillion or so, Senate Republicans have focused on a much smaller rescue package in the $650 billion to $1 trillion range.
While the proposal may send a message to constituents, most experts argue fleshing out hundreds of legislative details at the height of the presidential campaign and a heated battle over filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the High Court could be impossible.
An aide familiar with the leadership discussions and authorized to characterize them told the Associated Press the new bill would total about $2.4 trillion and is likely to contain additional relief for the airline and restaurant sectors as well as another round of $1,200 direct payments.
“We’re trying to figure out how to move a negotiation forward because we believe the American people need some help. And so we’re going to try,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “Our chairs are looking at everything again and the hope is that we can come up with something.”
Republicans reacted coolly, especially at the prospect of a partisan floor vote if the effort doesn’t spark constructive talks.
“It’s a waste of time,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, saying a Democrats-only approach won’t go anywhere. “She could pass 10 more partisan bills. That won’t get us an inch closer.”
The revised measure is likely to contain scaled-back proposals to give aid to state and local governments, more than $100 billion in aid to schools seeking to safely reopen, and funding for renewed pandemic jobless benefits and production of a COVID vaccine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.