Washington — While negotiations with Democratic leaders on another coronavirus relief package remain at a standstill, Senate Republicans are looking to unveil a more targeted measure next week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows spearheaded negotiations with Democrats for the GOP, said in an interview with Fox Business on Monday that he and Meadows have been hosting daily calls with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans.
“Hopefully Mitch [McConnell] will enter new legislation next week,” Mnuchin said, adding it would focus on children, jobs and liability protections for small businesses.
Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, told PBS News on Tuesday morning that Senate Republicans are aiming to push a narrow measure next week.
“That’s the goal,” he said.
Talks between Democratic congressional leaders and the White House collapsed last month after the two sides were unable to reach consensus on the size and scope of a broader legislative package. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion comprehensive measure in May, while Senate Republicans unveiled their own $1 trillion proposal in late July. Both plans, however, were viewed as nonstarters by the opposition.
With no signs of the logjam breaking, lawmakers in both chambers left Washington, and President Trump issued four executive actions designed to provide economic relief to Americans hurting because of the coronavirus crisis.
Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a 25-minute phone call last week, but the conversation yielded no progress on a deal. While Pelosi said Democrats would support a $2.2 trillion package, the offer was rebuffed by the White House, as Mnuchin said the speaker was not forthcoming about what would be included in the next measure.
“The speaker and Senator Schumer just don’t want to negotiate in good faith,” Mnuchin said.
A major sticking point between the White House and Democrats is funding for state and local governments, which are under fiscal strain as revenue streams dried up because of the pandemic. Meadows told CNBC on Tuesday that Pelosi is calling for $915 billion for localities, which he said is “just not a number that’s based on reality.”
Still, Meadows said that “real progress” has been made during talks with Senate Republicans.