U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have agreed to get stimulus check negotiations going again. Mnuchin gave these hopeful comments on Thursday, while he and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell were testifying before the U.S. Senate. This update comes alongside news that House Democrats have drafted a new stimulus bill.
"I've probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR... and we've agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act," Mnuchin said. Pelosi confirmed this news on the same day, according to a report by The Hill. She told reporters in Washington, D.C.: "We'll be hopefully soon to the table with them."
Stimulus negotiations have been at a virtual standstill for the last few weeks, leaving millions of Americans without their much-needed economic aid amid the coronavirus pandemic. Mnuchin hinted that he favored another attempt at a "skinny bill" — legislation with just the programs that Republicans and Democrats are currently agreed on.
"Let's pass things that we agree on quickly, and we can always come back and do more," Mnuchin said. "It's less of the issue of what the absolute number is."
Pelosi has avoided this tactic so far, arguing that Republicans will simply block future programs once they pass the limited number that they support. She insists that Republicans meet her in the $2 trillion neighborhood, while they stand firm at a $1 trillion maximum.
On Thursday, sources close to Democratic leaders told Politico and CNBC that Pelosi had directed other party leaders to draft a new stimulus bill to the tune of $2.4 trillion. It will take the place of their last formal bill, the HEROES Act, which had a price tag of about $3.5 trillion.
The pressure for another round of stimulus is rising not just among millions of unemployed Americans in need, but on Wall Street and in other financial institutions. This week, Powell warned the Senate that more stimulus is needed to avert an economic catastrophe.
"I would say many, most, [forecasters] assume some fiscal action. Fiscal action underlies many, many current forecasts," he said. "The economy will begin to feel those negative effects at some time."
Democrats' new plan will reportedly include a $1,200 stimulus check, enhanced unemployment insurance, a renewal of the Paycheck Protection Program and aid for the airline industry, among other things. There is no word yet on when it will be published, or how the Senate will respond.