Ups

White House ups virus aid offer, resumes talks with Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

Trump on Friday took to Twitter to declare: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” A top economic adviser said the Trump team was upping its offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The two spoke for more than 30 minutes Friday afternoon, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent prior offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering,” Trump said on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Friday. Earlier this week, Trump lambasted Democrats for their demands on an aid bill.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.


But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon out of a “murky” situation in which the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did in March and April but I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said. McConnell said later that “the first item of priority of the Senate is the Supreme Court,” suggesting there

White House ups offer in virus aid before talks with Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

Trump on Friday took to Twitter to declare, “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” A top economic adviser said the Trump team is upping its offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.


But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon out of a “murky” situation in which the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did in March and April but I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said.

He spoke after Trump apparently performed an about-face, empowering Mnuchin to resume negotiations with Pelosi, D-Calif., on a larger, comprehensive coronavirus relief package despite calling off the talks just days before.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told reporters Friday that “developments are positive” and that “the bid and the offer have narrowed” in advance of a telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

McConnell remains a skeptic that a deal

White House ups bid in last-ditch COVID talks with Congress | National politics

The speaker and treasury secretary were expected to speak by phone again later Thursday.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, appears more eager than Capitol Hill Republicans to reach an agreement.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure in hopes of getting an agreement. A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cautioned late Wednesday that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when more than $900 billion for state and local governments swelled a $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill that passed in May.

In a Wednesday evening appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

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White House Ups Bid in Last-Ditch COVID Talks With Congress | Political News

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill above $1.5 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

But the talks have gained momentum as the Trump administration presses for an agreement. On Air Force One Wednesday night, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump made an offer that was “extremely generous and certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date.”

The White House proposal yielded ground on funding for state and local governments, supporting a $250 billion infusion, and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer, first reported by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed a vote Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure but could take it up again Thursday.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying that she and Mnuchin would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said. Their negotiations were expected to resume Thursday.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between