House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin clashed after speaking on the phone Wednesday about stalled coronavirus relief legislation.
Gridlock in talks, which descended this week into a protracted blame-game on Capitol Hill, means $1,200 stimulus checks are on ice and an array of issues from small business loans to school funding are in flux.
A statement from Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Mnuchin “reiterated the Administration’s refusal to budge on their position on the size and scope” of legislation.
Pelosi and Schumer said, “An overture was made by Secretary Mnuchin to meet and he made clear that his televised comments from earlier today still stand: the White House is not budging from their position concerning the size and scope of a legislative package.”
“Democrats have compromised,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “Repeatedly, we have made clear to the Administration that we are willing to come down $1 trillion if they will come up $1 trillion. However, it is clear that the Administration still does not grasp the magnitude of the problems that American families are facing.”
The Democratic leaders publicly offered on Friday to negotiate an approximately $2 trillion deal after initially insisting that Republicans cave and pass a $3.4 trillion package. Senate Republicans unveiled a package of about $1 trillion.
Mnuchin fired back on Wednesday evening, saying he was being falsely accused.
“Earlier today, Speaker Pelosi and I spoke by phone. Her statement is not an accurate reflection of our conversation,” Mnuchin said.
“She made clear that she was unwilling to meet to continue negotiations unless we agreed in advance to her proposal, costing at least $2 trillion,” he said.
The Treasury secretary, who brokered large prior deals with Pelosi and Schumer, said, “The Democrats have no interest in negotiating.”
Trump on Saturday signed executive orders to revive a federal eviction moratorium, extend student loan deferment, create a $400 weekly unemployment supplement and suspend some taxes on income under $104,000.
Central points of disagreement in stimulus legislation talks include a Democratic request for $1 trillion in state and local aid, which Republicans oppose. And Democrats object to a proposed Republican liability waiver for businesses and want to resurrect the $600 weekly unemployment that expired last month, which Republicans said could give an incentive not to work.
Mnuchin said that he’s not to blame for the breakdown in talks.
“The Administration is willing to move forward with legislation that allows for substantial funds for schools, child care, food, vaccines, hospitals, PPP for small businesses, rental assistance, broadband, airports, state and local government assistance, and liability protection for universities, schools and businesses,” Mnuchin said.
The impasse resulted in expiration last month of an evictions moratorium shielding an estimated 23 people and in the lapsing of the prior federal unemployment insurance supplement for about 30 million people.