Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer held several weeks of negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows from late July to early August, but the talks failed amid partisan views. The two sides were separated by hundreds of billions of dollars in terms of overall spending, with aid to states and local governments – a top democratic priority – a huge stumbling block.
“We want to get a deal or deal with Mnuchin and the Senate because we want a bill passed and signed,” Hoyer told reporters on Thursday, when asked about a potential vote. “A bill with message is one thing. But we want to get something signed so that people get money.”
Pelosi and Mnuchin have had several phone calls since then, and they struck a deal this week on a short-term spending program to keep the federal government open until December 11, but there has been no movement on a Covid-19 relief bill. .
“I have probably spoken to President Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the RC and we have agreed to continue having discussions on the CARES law,” Mnuchin said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday.
But, he added, “at the moment we’re stuck” because Democrats want at least a $ 2.2 trillion plan.
The legislation is expected to contain popular provisions of the massive $ 3.4 trillion HEROES law that the House passed in May, including state and local funding and expanded unemployment benefits, but likely for a longer period of time. shorter than the one initially proposed, according to the Democrats involved.
With key assistance such as Federal Unemployment Assistance and Business Grants having expired, many House Democrats have grown desperate in their calls for Pelosi and his leadership team to take over projects of Additional relief law before the chamber leaves for a month-long hiatus next week.
This includes some of the most threatened Democrats in the caucus who are worried about the election in just 40 days, as well as others from districts that have been battered by the economic fallout from the pandemic. A dozen Democrats had even considered joining a GOP discharge petition to force a vote on small business relief.
Many centrist Democrats have argued that voters at home will not remember the massive legislation passed by the House in May, which has since languished in the Senate. Some lawmakers, as part of the bipartisan House problem-solving caucus, drafted their own roughly $ 2 trillion proposal in an attempt to resume negotiations.
But Pelosi has repeatedly said Democrats shouldn’t come up with a narrower package when Republicans refuse to budge on their demands.
“We will negotiate with the administration and the Republicans, not with ourselves,” Pelosi said last week, when asked about negotiations on the next package.
Some top Democrats, including Hoyer, have been at odds privately and publicly with Pelosi, however. Hoyer said Wednesday he was pushing for a vote next week on a new Democrat-led bill to reflect the party’s willingness to negotiate, even if the Senate government ignores it again.
“I’m hopeful and believe that we should adopt an alternative that addresses all of the issues that we have dealt with in ‘Heroes’, albeit in lesser numbers and timeframes, and then we’ll see what happens when the election, “Hoyer told reporters Wednesday.
“People are really hurting,” he said, adding that the Democrats’ “best policy” would be to introduce another bill before leaving for the October recess.
Victoria Guida contributed to this report.