Pelosi dismisses Trump coronavirus stimulus offer as ‘one step forward, two steps back’

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US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, leaves after her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2020.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday dismissed the Trump administration’s latest coronavirus stimulus offer, continuing complicated negotiations between Democrats and Republicans that have stretched out for months.

The White House on Friday increased its offer to $1.8 trillion, nearly double the original offer from Republicans when talks began in late summer but about $400 billion less than the $2.2 trillion bill Democrats previously passed. 

“This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back,” Pelosi said of the Trump administration’s stimulus offer.

“When the President talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold, rather than agreeing on language prescribing how we honor our workers, crush the virus and put money in the pockets of workers,” Pelosi said.

Congress has failed to pass new aid for months as the virus continues to spread across the country and economic recovery slows. 

Pelosi said the administration’s proposal lacks a strategic plan to contain the spread of the virus, and has inadequate funding for state and local governments as well as financial relief for American families.

Pelosi has called for a deal that reinstates the $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefit that ended in July and puts tens of billions dollars into contact tracing, Covid-19 testing and vaccine development.

“Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday’s developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America’s families,” Pelosi said.

On a 30-minute phone call Friday afternoon, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented the new proposal to Pelosi. Mnuchin’s proposal ”attempted to address some of the concerns Democrats have,” according to Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi.

As election day approaches, it’s unclear if Congress will have enough time to produce a pandemic relief bill and push it through the Republican-held Senate, which is moving quickly to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that a stimulus package is “unlikely in the next three weeks.”

Trump, who called off talks several days ago, now says he’s changed his position on approving more coronavirus aid before the November election, telling right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh that “I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering.”

However, White House communications director Alyssa Farah later told reporters that the administration wants a package that costs below $2 trillion, which would be less than the $2.2 trillion bill Democrats have proposed.

— CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report

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