Politics

Latest Mnuchin-Pelosi call produces ‘encouraging news on testing’ for stimulus package

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi defends not speaking to Trump for an entire year On The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can ’round up’ Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T Romney slams Trump for refusing to denounce QAnon on national television MORE‘s (D-Calif.) deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said Saturday that there has been some “encouraging news on testing” following the speaker’s call with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPelosi defends not speaking to Trump for an entire year On The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can ’round up’ Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T US deficit spikes to record .1 trillion in 2020 amid pandemic spending MORE to discuss the details on a possible fifth coronavirus relief package. 

The call is the latest development in the back-and-forth stimulus negotiations that have appeared to grind to a halt as the White House has thus far been unable to hammer out a deal with congressional leadership. 

The news comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichigan court overturns absentee ballot extension Trump jokes he’ll ‘find a way’ to fire Gov. DeSantis if he loses Florida Biden hits Trump’s response to attempted kidnapping of Michigan governor: ‘What the hell is wrong with this guy?’ MORE and his administration are pushing to pass a stimulus bill just weeks before the Nov. 3 election. Earlier this month, Trump encouraged Congress to “go big or go home” on a coronavirus stimulus package after he had called off negotiations altogether in a tweet. 

However, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans increasingly seek distance from Trump On The Money: Kudlow confident that Trump can ’round up’ Senate GOP behind coronavirus relief deal | US deficit spikes to record .1T The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrats break fundraising records in Senate races MORE (R-Ky.) and other top Republicans have balked at stimulus offers over $1 trillion. 

Hamill tweeted the news late Saturday evening, saying that the conversation between Pelosi and Mnuchin lasted about an hour. 

“While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color,” he wrote. 

Hammill added that after the discussion, there are also still “an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours.” 

“Decisions must be made by the White House in order to demonstrate that the Administration is serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement that provides for Americans with the greatest needs during the pandemic,” he added in follow-up tweets. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday afternoon that the Senate will vote on a $500 billion GOP coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday. 

The Senate bill is less than a third of the size of the $1.8 trillion offer from the White House and is much less than the $2.2 trillion package passed by congressional Democrats earlier this month.  

McConnell, speaking in Kentucky this week, expressed doubt that a package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion package could be achieved, adding that it would need support from Senate Republicans even if Pelosi was able to reach a deal with the Trump administration. 

“I don’t think so. That’s where the administration is willing to go. My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go,” McConnell said. 

However, McConnell added that the Senate would “consider” a deal reached between the White House and Democrats.

“If Speaker Pelosi ever lets the House reach a bipartisan agreement with the Administration, the Senate would of course consider it. But Americans need help now,” he said.

The Senate bill detailed by McConnell Saturday includes a federal unemployment benefit and another round of small-business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

In a pre-recorded interview on “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren,” to air Sunday, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: Trump refuses to condemn QAnon | Twitter revises its policy, lets users share disputed article | Google sees foreign cyber threats Republicans increasingly seek distance from Trump Chairman: Senate Judiciary to vote on subpoena for Mark Zuckerberg MORE (R-S.C.) said that Congress should go “big and smart” on the next coronavirus relief package. 

The senator added that while he thinks more money is needed, he does not agree with the policy components of the House proposal. 

“The $2.2 trillion coming out of the House has a mandate for ballot harvesting. What’s that got to do COVID?” Graham said. “And the $1,200 payment, which I support, doesn’t require a Social Security number to get it, so a lot of the money would go to illegal immigrants.”

“There are some Republicans who don’t want to spend anymore,” Graham added. “I think we need more money, but we don’t need policy provisions like the House has.” 

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