Second Stimulus Negotiation: White House Surprises Congress With Mark Meadows' Attempt to Restart Talks

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made a surprising appearance at the Capitol on Saturday while the House of Representatives was in Washington for a rare Saturday session. The House planned to vote on a bill specifically on the U.S. Postal Service, providing $25 billion in additional funding before the November election. Meadows used the occasion to make another plea with Democrats to back a trimmed down economic stimulus bill after talks stalled earlier this month.

Meadows told reporters he spoke with Democratic and Republican members and stopped by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, but was told she was busy in another meeting, reports Bloomberg. "If she wants to strike a deal with the president of the United States on behalf of the American people, the president is willing to do that," Meadows said. "At the same time, that deal needs to be based on real numbers and real issues that are urgent in terms of their need to be addressed, and not a partisan wish list."

The former representative from North Carolina said he would call Pelosi later to discuss restarting talks about another stimulus package. The last time Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss the next package was back on Aug. 7. The talks broke down over a disagreement on the size of the overall package. Republicans want to spend $1 trillion, while Democrats have pushed for twice that.

While talks have been stalled for two weeks, Meadows is still optimistic the two sides could reach a deal on USPS funding, aid for schools and small businesses, expanded federal unemployment insurance, while sending a second direct stimulus check to Americans. "Those issues are not as divisive as one might think," Meadows said. Still, he dismissed the Democrats' call for $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments.

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Pelosi called House members back to Washington to vote on the proposed USPS funding bill amid concern over the service's ability to handle mail-in ballots during the election after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made a series of controversial decisions. During a Senate committee hearing on Friday, DeJoy denied his changes were politically motivated, even though President Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken out against mail-in ballots and has criticized the postal service.

While the House bill is expected to pass with a party-line vote, it is unlikely to go far in the Senate. The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it did pass the House and Senate. "We will pass the bill and it will be in a bipartisan way today and then we will send it to the Senate," Pelosi said Saturday, reports CNN. She predicted Republican members "will be hearing from their constituents because this hits home — not receiving your mail in a timely fashion, hits home."