HOUSE Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have made a last-ditch effort to strike a coronavirus relief deal before Election Day, with GOP representatives said to be open to talks.
A $2.2 trillion relief package being pushed by Democrats would include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, $600 of additional Federal unemployment payments, and $225 billion for schools.
Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke at length on Monday evening, and talks are set to continue on Tuesday morning, Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill said.
As House Democrats have raced ahead with their own partizan stimulus package over recent months, they have come up against strong GOP resistance.
The current proposals are a scaled-back version of the $3.4 trillion bill that passed the House in May, but still appear to offer more in state aid than Republicans are willing to accept.
It has been reported that Republican leaders are willing to accept a relief package in the $650 billion to $1 trillion range.
Speaking to MSNBC, Pelosi said on Monday: "We've come down $1 trillion and they need to come up because we have to crush this virus."
OPTIMISTIC OF DEAL
Pelosi said that she is "hopeful" and "optimistic" that an agreement can be reached.
She and Mnuchin restarted talks over coronavirus aid over recent days, having previously navigated a government shutdown on September 30, thanks to a short-term fix.
Should an agreement not be reached between Mnuchin and Pelosi, it's likely that House Democrats will hold a vote on their $2.2 trillion bill before Wednesday before heading home.
Such an approach would all but assure that Congress will not pass a stimulus package before Election Day, sources said.
The 2,152-page bill, which Democrats spent much of the weekend finalizing, would include more than half-a-trillion dollars to support state and local governments.
$75 billion would also be put aside for coronavirus testing.
As part of the package, restaurants and airlines – two of the industries hit hardest during the pandemic – would receive some relief.
House Democrats have been pressing Pelosi to bring more pandemic aid bills to the floor, after a number of safeguards ended for millions of Americans, such as $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March as a response to the economic fallout of COVID 19.
The relief package included the likes of stimulus checks for certain individuals, increased unemployment benefits, relief for big and small businesses, and aid for state and local governments.
In May, the House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act as a way to supplement the earlier CARES Act stimulus package.
Having arrived on the Senate floor, however, the bill was practically dead on arrival, Republicans said, describing it as "unrealistic" and a "partisan offering."
The bill also received criticism from some progressive Democrats, who said that it did not go far enough and that payments needed to be recurring.
Both parties have acknowledged that this week is likely the last chance representatives have to strike a deal before Congress departs for roughly a month ahead of Election Day.
Until last week, Pelosi had stood firmly behind the HEROES Act figure, stating that pressure should be on Republicans to make next move.
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