Mnuchin: Aid package that includes stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment could be agreed upon by Thursday
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After more than a month of stalemate, Capitol Hill is finally moving closer to another economic aid package.
On Wednesday Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the White House plans to give Democratic leaders another counter-offer: They’d increase their past offer of $1.3 trillion to $1.5 trillion—and include provisions that would allow the package to rise to $2 trillion if the pandemic persist beyond a certain point.
Mnuchin says a deal could be made as early as Thursday. But if talks fall apart this time, they’re unlikely to restart, he added.
It’s unclear how Democratic leaders will perceive that counter. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered the White House $2.2 trillion last month, down from $3.4 trillion. Republican leaders subsequently increased their offer from $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion, but talks fell apart once it became clear neither group would budge again.
And the White House is negotiating without full support from its rank-and-file: The more stimulus funding Mnuchin offers Pelosi, the more likely he’s to lose Republican votes in the Senate. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley last week told reporters he’d be opposed to the White House upping its offer to $1.5 trillion.
While they disagree with the topline number, Republican and Democratic leaders are in support for many of the items that would go in the bill. If a deal is struck it would include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, and more aid for small businesses and hospitals.
They’re in disagreement on items like a steep increase in federal aid to state and local governments, which Democrats support, and COVID-19 lawsuit immunity for businesses, which Republicans support.
If a compromise stimulus package can’t be made, Pelosi is likely to have the House vote on a revised $2.2 trillion HEROES Act stimulus bill. Back in May the first version of the HEROES Act, priced at $3 trillion, passed in the House. But it never got a vote in the Republican controlled Senate.