Pelosi, Mnuchin speak but stimulus plan as good as dead

Washington: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Wednesday but again did not strike a deal on coronavirus stimulus.

The pair talked by phone and had “productive” discussions about language in relief proposals delivered over the weekend, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet. He added that “one major area of disagreement continues to be that the White House lacks an understanding of the need for a national strategic testing plan” for Covid-19.

Mnuchin, who over the weekend urged Congress to allow businesses to access a second Paycheck Protection Program loan from $130 billion in unused funds, said the “all or nothing approach” on legislation “doesn’t make sense.” Even as he called for immediate, “targeted” aid, Mnuchin conceded that “getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult.”

The negotiators have made a last-ditch push to reach a stimulus agreement before the 2020 election. But the chances of Congress passing new aid before Nov. 3 have slimmed as the Republican-held Senate pushes to vote on a more narrow plan than either the White House or Democrats have proposed.

While Trump earlier this month scrapped talks until after the election, he reversed course as he faces a difficult bid for a second term in the White House. Pelosi, whose party passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill in the House, has dismissed the White House’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal as inadequate.

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