House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin resumed negotiations on another coronavirus relief package last week and continued talking on Monday. However, the two sides have still not reached a deal. The two sides are still far apart on the total cost of another package and are expected to speak again on Tuesday. There still has not been another coronavirus relief package passed since April 24, and there is still no legislation including a second stimulus check.
"Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin spoke by phone today at 11:30 a.m. for approximately 1 hour. The two discussed the justifications for various numbers and plan to exchange paper today in preparation for another phone call tomorrow," Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, tweeted. The talks resumed after House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which would revive the $600-per-week enhanced federal unemployment benefits program that expired at the end of July. It would also include another $1,200 payment to Americans and $436 billion in aid to states and local governments.
Mnuchin offered a $1.6 trillion plan, which includes a $400-per-week unemployment benefit and $250 billion in relief to states and local governments, reports CNBC. One of the biggest differences in his plan is liability protection for businesses, which has been a top priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Democrats oppose including the legal shield, suggesting it would make it harder for people to sue businesses. Republicans say it would assure schools and businesses they would not face COVID-19-related lawsuits if they reopen.
Congress passed four coronavirus relief packages, but none since April 24, when President Donald Trump signed legislation that added more funding to the Paycheck Protection Program and provided more funding for hospitals and testing. The biggest piece of legislation was the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which included a one-time stimulus check and was signed into law on March 27. Since then, Congress has been divided on what to do next. The House passed a $3 trillion package in May, but McConnell refused to put it up for a vote in the Senate. McConnell proposed a $1 trillion package, which was never voted on. The Senate did vote on a smaller package, which failed as Democrats continued pushing for more comprehensive legislation.
The new $2.2 trillion package Democrats passed last week is unlikely to go to the Senate. Even before House Democrats voted on it, McConnell called it "outlandish" and the price "too high." Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told CNBC there will still be discussions and he was hopeful for a solution soon, but the Democratic plan "goes way beyonf what we need to do to fight coronavirus."