Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday spoke by phone to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as negotiations on coronavirus relief legislation remain at a standstill.
Mnuchin reached out to Pelosi (D-Calif.) after pledging to do so before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which is investigating the federal government’s response to the pandemic, after he testified before the panel earlier in the day.
“Let me say I very much agree with you and those other experts that more fiscal response is needed. The president and I want to move forward with more fiscal response,” Mnuchin said.
After speaking to Mnuchin for over half an hour, Pelosi said no progress was made, but touted Democrats’ proposed compromise legislation.
“Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing.
“House and Senate Democrats have repeatedly offered to compromise. Over a month ago, we said that we would be willing to cut a trillion dollars from the Heroes Act if the White House would add 1 trillion to the Senate bill. Last week, we said we would be willing to go down to $2.2 trillion,” she said in a statement after the call.
House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion relief bill in May, which has not yet been brought up for a vote in the Senate, currently run by Republicans.
Senate Republicans had said the bill was filled with non-coronavirus-related costs, sparking backlash among the most fiscally conservative lawmakers not facing re-election.
During his testimony, Mnuchin said he and the president supported more funding for workers, schools, coronavirus testing and small business relief.
With the November election approaching and Senate Republicans striving to maintain their majority in the upper chamber of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will “hopefully” unveil a new coronavirus rescue package next week, Mnuchin said in a Fox Business Network interview Monday.
Mnuchin added that the GOP-backed legislation would focus on children, jobs and liability protections for small businesses — a red line for Republicans.
The bill is estimated to have somewhere between a $500 billion and $700 billion price tag, according to The Hill, a significant drop from the $2.2 trillion Democrats want.
Mnuchin went on to say he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had been in daily contact with McConnell and other Senate Republicans by phone.
On Tuesday, McConnell told fellow Senate GOP lawmakers during a conference call with Mnuchin and Meadows that senators in tough re-election fights wanted to vote on a relief bill as soon as possible, The Hill reported.
“McConnell wants it. McConnell said today is that every member who’s up [for re-election] who has any hint of vulnerability wants a bill that gets 51 votes,” the source said Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon, Pelosi was caught on video obtained by Fox News showing her wearing a black smock with slicked-back hair — but no mask — in a beauty salon.
The owner of the beauty parlor — which, like other barbershops and salons in San Francisco, has been closed for indoor service since March — said Pelosi’s visit was a “slap in the face.”