- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2020

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows echoed President Trump’s call for a “piecemeal” approach to coronavirus relief Wednesday morning, after talks for a larger deal collapsed.

After the president put the kibosh on negotiations via tweet Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Meadows said the White House was open to working on targeted bipartisan solutions.

“Hopefully we can convince Speaker Pelosi to do something on a stand-alone basis,” Mr. Meadows said on Fox News. “She’s failed to budge…she’d rather spend zero than $1.6 trillion and I don’t know if the American people will accept that.”

“I’m not optimistic about a comprehensive deal. I am optimistic that there are about 10 things we can do on a piecemeal basis, if the speaker is willing to put it before her members,” he added.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin had been negotiating for over a week on coronavirus relief, but Mr. Meadows said those conversations were going nowhere.

Republicans and Democrats remained over $1 trillion apart, with the White House offering around $1.6 trillion and Democrats keeping their bid around $2.2 trillion.

Hours after he called off the talks, Mr. Trump called for a handful of targeted relief proposals, including airline relief and $1,200 direct payments to individuals, which have wide bipartisan support.

“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!” the president tweeted.

Mrs. Pelosi has repeatedly rejected any attempt to push through slimmed-down proposals, arguing the pandemic was too pervasive to address only a handful of issues.

However, on Friday, she did try to push through a stand-alone relief bill for the airline industry as thousands faced layoffs, but it was blocked by Republicans on the House floor.

The decision to end talks prompted a wave of backlash from top Democrats and a handful of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress,” Mrs. Pelosi said Tuesday. “Walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus.”

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