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Pelosi, Mnuchin continue stimulus negotiations

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Oct 06, 2020 - 09:34 AM

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked again on Monday as they searched for a long-elusive agreement on additional stimulus for the pummeled US economy, a top Pelosi aide said.

The two sides have been negotiating for weeks over a follow-up package to the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed as the coronavirus pandemic erupted earlier this year.

That bill was credited with boosting the economy but Democrats and Republicans haven’t been able to agree on how much more to spend in the two months since key provisions expired.

The moribund negotiations were revived last week with a series of phone calls and an in-person meeting between the Treasury Secretary and Pelosi, whose Democrats control the House of Representatives.

The speaker’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said the talks resumed on Monday.

“Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin spoke by phone today at 11:30 am for approximately one hour. The two discussed the justifications for various numbers and plan to exchange paper today in preparation for another phone call tomorrow,” he said.

The CARES Act budgeted an extra $600 in weekly payments to the unemployed that was credited with spurring consumption even as Covid-19 caused the worst economic downturn in decades. That provision expired at the end of July.

The law also created a system of loans and grants for small businesses battered by business shutdowns to stop the virus’s spread, but that money ran dry in August.

President Donald Trump has called for a deal but the parties remain far apart on the bottom line. The most recent Democratic proposal would cost $2.2 trillion, while the White House wants to spend $1.6 trillion.

Facing a re-election battle next month against Democratic challenger Joe Biden in which polls show him behind, Trump, who has himself contracted Covid-19, on Saturday tweeted, “OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE. Thank you!”

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