Coronavirus

White House seeks limited coronavirus relief bill, promises further talks on broader stimulus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Sunday called on Congress to pass a stripped-down coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from an expired small-business loan program, as negotiations on a broader package ran into resistance.

The administration proposal, which Democrats dismissed as inadequate, was the latest twist in on-again, off-again talks to try to secure more stimulus, as the economy struggles to recover from coronavirus-related shutdowns that threw millions of Americans out of work.

In a letter to lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of State Mark Meadows said they would continue to talk to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to reach agreement on a comprehensive bill.

But they said Congress should “immediately vote” on legislation to enable the use of the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds, which total around $130 billion.

“The all or nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote.

A spokesman for Pelosi, the lead Democratic negotiator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Nita Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, rejected the administration’s offer in a statement later on Sunday as “woefully inadequate.”

“We can only reopen our economy and set the foundation for a strong recovery if we support state and local governments on the frontline of this crisis,” Lowey said in a statement.

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern told reporters the unused funds would be used to reopen the Payroll Protection Program, which expired earlier this year, to “allow businesses to continue to use it to keep their employees employed.”

President Donald Trump on Friday offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with Pelosi after urging his team on Twitter to “go big” – moving closer to Pelosi’s

White House pushes for limited coronavirus relief bill as broader effort meets resistance

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin takes questions from news reporters with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows following a series of meetings on efforts to pass new coronavirus aid legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday called on Congress to pass a coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from the small business loan program as negotiations on a more comprehensive package face resistance.

Their proposal was the latest twist in the on-again, off-again talks to try to secure more stimulus for the economy.

In a letter to House and Senate members, Mnuchin and Meadows said the White House would continue to talk to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but that Congress should “immediately vote on a bill” that would enable the use of unused Paycheck Protection Program funds.

“The all or nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote.

President Donald Trump on Friday offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with Pelosi after urging his team on Twitter to “go big” – moving closer to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal. That came after Trump earlier last week said he was calling off negotiations until after the Nov. 3 election.

Trump’s reversal and higher offer drew criticism from at least 20 Senate Republicans, who said they were concerned a deal would cost Republicans support in the upcoming elections.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he thought Senate Republicans would eventually come around.

“I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it,” he said, adding that there will be

House Speaker Pelosi Says Coronavirus Stimulus Talks With White House at Impasse

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said negotiations with the White House over a new coronavirus aid package remained at an impasse Sunday, as Senate Republicans remain wary of more spending.

In a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, Mrs. Pelosi said the administration’s latest $1.9 trillion offer, submitted Saturday, provided inadequate funding and no national plan for testing, contact tracing and treatment of the coronavirus.

“This past week, the president demonstrated very clearly that he has not taken the war against the virus seriously, personally or nationally. This attitude is reflected in the grossly inadequate response we finally received from the administration on Saturday,” Mrs. Pelosi wrote. “Until these serious issues are resolved, we remain at an impasse.”

House Democrats have pushed for $75 billion and a national plan for testing, tracing and treatment of the virus. Mrs. Pelosi said in her letter that the White House plan included about $45 billion in new funding, lacked a national plan for testing and tracing and didn’t address the virus’s disproportionate impact on minority communities.

President Trump in brief comments on the issue said Republicans were still eager to reach an agreement.

“Republicans want to do it. We’re having a hard time with Nancy Pelosi,” he said Sunday on Fox News.

White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah told reporters the White House offer was around $1.8 trillion. A person familiar with the proposal said it included $1.88 trillion in spending, with about $400 billion of the funds reallocated from unspent money from earlier relief legislation, bringing the total cost to about $1.5 trillion.

Mr. Trump faces resistance from some Republicans wary of approving more federal aid after Congress authorized around $3 trillion in coronavirus relief since March.

During a conference call Saturday morning with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and

Senate Republicans Denounce White House’s Offer for Coronavirus Relief

Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, a Republican, warned that accepting a bill with Ms. Pelosi’s support would amount to a “death knell” for the party’s ambitions to retain its majority in the Senate and would “deflate” the Republican base, reflecting longstanding concerns among senators eager to protect their credentials as fiscal hawks and stave off primary challengers in the next election cycle.

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, declared that accepting a Democratic push to expand elements of the Affordable Care Act would be “an enormous betrayal” of Republican voters. Republicans have also voiced concerns that the health care provisions Democrats have pressed for could result in the use of federal funds for abortions, a characterization Democrats dispute.

“I don’t get it,” Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, said of the administration’s efforts to reach a sweeping bipartisan deal with House Democrats, echoing the sentiments of multiple senators.

Ms. Pelosi, for her part, informed Democratic lawmakers that she found elements of Mr. Mnuchin’s proposal to be inadequate, writing in a letter on Saturday that “this proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back.” After scaling down House Democrats’ original $3.4 trillion proposal to $2.2 trillion, she has been unwilling to accept much less than that.

“When the president talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold,” Ms. Pelosi wrote, adding “at this point, we still have disagreement on many priorities.” She ticked off a number of unresolved issues, including what she said was insufficient funding for unemployment benefits, child care, and state and local governments, and “reckless” liability protections that Republicans have insisted are a priority.

She said she was waiting for specific language from the administration about several provisions, including a national

Senate Republicans rip new White House coronavirus proposal

Senate Republicans on Saturday offered fierce pushback against the administration’s latest coronavirus relief proposal during a call with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks | Trump proposes .8T coronavirus relief package | Vegas ties helped Trump score M windfall in 2016 Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks SBA simplifies PPP forgiveness for small loans MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump campaigns on Rush Limbaugh show l Democrats question Trump’s mental fitness l Coronavirus stimulus in doubt before election Debate commission co-chair: ‘No evidence whatsoever’ Trump has tested negative The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Dems ruffle feathers with POTUS fitness bill MORE.

Senate Republicans raised concerns about the $1.8 trillion price tag of the White House’s latest offer to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLoeffler unveils resolution condemning Pelosi for comments on 25th Amendment On The Money: Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks | Trump proposes .8T coronavirus relief package | Vegas ties helped Trump score M windfall in 2016 Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks MORE (D-Calif.), multiple sources familiar with the call told The Hill.

One source familiar with the call said that there were “significant concerns raised with the price tag.”

“There’s an openness to continue negotiating, but the current top line is an obstacle,” the source added.

Concerns about the White House’s offer came from across the conference, underscoring the work the White House and President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal judge shoots down Texas proclamation allowing one ballot drop-off location per county Nine people who attended Trump rally in Minnesota contracted coronavirus Schiff: If Trump wanted more infections ‘would he be doing anything different?’ MORE face to get any potential deal across the finish