Hopes that negotiations regarding another stimulus package would soon resume on Capitol Hill are quickly fading, with House Democrats and the White House locked in a back-and-forth debate regarding the simple matter of whether or not either side has reached out. Although both sides have expressed a desire to return to the negotiating table, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday denied claims from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that the White House has reached out.
Speaking with Politico Playbook Wednesday, Meadows had claimed that the White House has "reached out" to Pelosi in an attempt to resume negotiations, which fell apart in early August. Meadows said that after not hearing back from Pelosi, he had his staff "reach out again yesterday to Speaker Pelosi's chief of staff." He noted while Donald Trump was eager for a deal to be struck, given Pelosi's lack of a reply, he was not "optimistic," claiming he believed the House Speaker would "hold out until the end of September. Additionally, she would try to get what she wants in the funding for the government during the [continuing resolution] or whatever funding mechanism happens to come up at the end of September.
Those on Pelosi's team, however, have denied Meadows' claims, stating that the White House has not reached out to Democrats in the weeks since discussions halted. In a statement to Fox News, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hamill, claimed that while Meadows said on ABC News' This Week that he would contact Pelosi last Sunday, he never did. He also said that while Meadows' staff had reached out via text message, they did not directly ask for more negotiations, but rather asked if Pelosi's team had the correct phone number.
"Democrats have compromised in these negotiations," Hamill added. "We offered to come down $1 trillion if the White House would come up $1 trillion. We welcome the White House back to the negotiating table, but they must meet us halfway."
Months after the president had signed the CARES Act, negotiations on an additional relief package had been sparked on Capitol Hill in late July after the GOP introduced the HEALS Act. With a $1 trillion price tag that was $2 trillion short of the Democrats' HEROES Act, presented and approved by the House in May but never taken up for a vote in the Senate, top Democrats and the White House remained far apart in discussions. Those talks eventually fell apart, with the president intervening by signing a controversial executive order. In the weeks since, the standing of the relief package has been unclear, with Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers on social media as the American people take to Twitter to demand immediate relief.