- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer accused the White House Wednesday of digging their heels in on the “size and scope” of the next COVID-relief bill.

“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,” they said in a joint statement.

“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,” they added.

The Democrats offered a $3.5 trillion plan while the Republican’s proposal had a $1 trillion price tag.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin countered their account Wednesday afternoon, saying it was Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, who drew a red line on $2 trillion when they spoke on the phone.

“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 in a statement. “The Democrats have no interest in negotiating.”

Talks between the White House and Democrats flatlined last Friday and, despite calls from both sides for negotiations to restart, neither party has made any major concessions.

Mr. Mnuchin wanted to return to the bargaining table and said he’d be willing to go slightly over $1 trillion for the deal.

“Let’s do this,” he said on the Fox Business Network. “There are things that we’d still like to do with additional legislation. Let’s spend a little over $1 trillion on areas of the economy that are going to be very impactful now that we can agree on.

With the talks stalled, President Trump signed executive orders Saturday that extended $400 weekly unemployment benefits and issued a payroll tax break for workers making under $100,000. The orders also extend deferrals for student loan payments and forgive interest and suspends housing evictions.

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