Ongoing relief talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appear to be going nowhere. Two months after discussions between the two collapsed, an hour-long meeting Monday night resulted in an agreement on an additional stimulus relief deal not being reached, according to CNBC, again sparking fears that help is not on the way.
Pelosi and Mnuchin, who had first come to the negotiation table in March following the introduction of the HEALS Act, renewed stimulus relief talks in late September following weeks of little headway being made. At the time, both Pelosi and Mnuchin expressed hope that they would be able to find common ground in their final push to reach an agreement before the November election, though progress has been slow. In a conference call Monday evening with House Democratic Leaders, Pelosi admitted that her negotiations with Mnuchin were going "very slowly," Politico, citing sources on the call, reports.
Along with a number of policies, a main sticking point for the two sides seems to be the price tag of what would be the fifth stimulus relief package. While the CARES Act, which was approved in March, had a price tag of more than $2 trillion, the GOP has largely sought to keep any additional legislation at or below $1 trillion. Democrats, meanwhile, have proposed much larger packages, with the HEROES Act surpassing the $3 trillion mark. Both sides have indicated they are willing to compromise, though.
Ahead of the resumed discussions with Mnuchin, Pelosi introduced the HEROES Act 2.0. A follow-up to the HEROES Act, which stalled in the Senate following its approval in the House of Representatives, the new proposal had a price tag that was $1 trillion lower. It also included provisions supported by President Donald Trump, including funding for airlines. The bill also included funding for emergency aid for state and local governments, schools and child care, coronavirus testing, contact tracing and other health care efforts, and housing assistance, as well as a second round of stimulus checks.
Mnuchin, meanwhile, has gone up on his offer, raising the price tag from the initial proposal to $1.6 trillion. Under this plan, $400 weekly in extra unemployment insurance, $200 shy of Pelosi's offer, would be included, as well as $250 billion in state and local government relief, and liability protections for businesses.
During their Monday night meeting, according to Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, the two discussed "the justifications for various numbers and plan to exchange paper today in preparation for another phone call tomorrow." They are expected to continue discussions Tuesday.