US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday it will be difficult to pass a bipartisan deal on an economic relief bill before the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Mnuchin said he had a “productive” talk with House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi on the telephone. “We continue to make progress on certain issues, but on certain issues we continue to be far apart,” he said during a speech at the Milken Institute Global Conference.
“One major area of disagreement continues to be that the White House lacks an understanding of the need for a national strategic testing plan [for COVID-19]” he added.
The Democratic-held House passed earlier this month a $2.2 trillion relief bill to stimulate the economy and help Americans, but US President Donald Trump last week ordered a halt to talks on the Republicans’ $1.6 trillion offer.
Trump later made a U-turn and asked for aid for airlines and small businesses, raising the offer to $1.8 trillion, but it was rejected by Pelosi.
While some House Democrats insist Pelosi take the offer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday a vote on a limited stimulus bill based on the Paycheck Protection Program could take place this month in the upper chamber.
The program gives low-interest loans to businesses that keep employees on the payroll through the coronavirus pandemic.
However, it will be difficult to match the contents of the House and Senate bills, as millions of Americans await help from lawmakers in the worst economic recession in the country since the Great Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
“STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Trump wrote Tuesday on Twitter, urging lawmakers to agree on a bipartisan bill before the election.
“President only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up,” Pelosi wrote Tuesday in an open letter to Democrats. “Tragically, the Trump proposal falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand.”
“Over 215,000 Americans have died, nearly 7.8 million have been infected and millions more are still without jobs or income security and therefore struggling to make rent and put food on the table,” she added.
Trump countered Wednesday that if Democrats would maintain a majority in the House and win the White House, they would bring poverty and depression.
“If the Left gains power, they will shut down the economy, close our schools, delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, and impose the most extreme policies in our history,” he said in a speech in the Rose Garden.
Trump went on to say that his administration will confront China and hold the Asian country ”accountable” for the coronavirus pandemic if re-elected in November.
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