Dems and WH talking on stimulus but ‘serious differences’ remains

Washington: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday, but the pair failed to bridge a chasm between their proposals for more coronavirus relief, reports CNBC.

“Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing,” Peolsi said after the conversation.

Pelosi indicated the sides stand far apart on the price tag for a fifth package designed to alleviate economic and health-care crises fueled by the pandemic. Democrats have said they would accept a $2.2 trillion bill. The Trump administration has not gone higher than $1.3 trillion.

The impasse risks dealing further damage to millions of Americans scrambling to cover rent and food costs as economic restrictions designed to limit Covid-19′s spread remain in place. Failure to pass more fiscal stimulus could also jeopardize the employment gains the U.S. has made in the last three months after record job losses early on in the outbreak.

Multiple financial lifelines passed to buoy the economy earlier this year have lapsed. A $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefit and a moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing expired in late July, while the window to apply for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans closed in August.

President Donald Trump has deployed his limited powers to offer aid during the stalemate. His administration said Tuesday that it would use CDC authority to halt evictions through the end of the year for individuals who make $99,000 or less and couples who make $198,000 or less. He previously signed executive orders to extend extra jobless benefits of at least $300 per week for some Americans for several weeks, continue federal student loan assistance until the end of the year and suspend the employee portion of the payroll tax. But his ability to provide relief does not go nearly as far as that of Congress, which controls federal spending.

On Tuesday morning, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC that the sides have made “real progress” on pandemic relief. He noted that deciding on how much aid to send to state and local governments posed the biggest “stumbling block” for negotiators. Democrats want more than $900 billion in new relief, while the White House has offered $150 billion in additional funds.

Mnuchin testified before Congress about coronavirus relief on Tuesday and acknowledged the need for another bill to address Covid-19.

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