United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday evening presented a $ 916 billion coronavirus relief proposal to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the White House’s first attempt since elections to break the deadlock in the US Congress.
Acting on behalf of President Donald Trump, Secretary Mnuchin said his proposal was slightly superior to a $ 908 billion bipartisan plan proposed by a group of Republican and Democratic senators last week.
This would include bailout funds for local state governments and liability protections for businesses. So far, the two have been stumbling blocks to a bipartisan deal that could pass both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-led Senate.
Mnuchin said in a statement on Twitter that he hoped “to reach a bipartisan agreement so that we can bring essential economic relief to American businesses, families and businesses.”
The plan has been discussed with the president and Republican leaders and would reuse existing COVID-19 funds to help pay for it, Mnuchin said.
“As part of this proposal, we will fund it using $ 140 billion in unused paycheck protection program funds and $ 429 billion in treasury funds,” Mnuchin said.
Both sides are under increasing pressure to deliver a new infusion of coronavirus aid to families and businesses shocked by a pandemic that has killed more than 283,000 people in the United States and left millions unemployed.
A cluster of emergency aid programs implemented in response to the pandemic, including additional unemployment benefits and a moratorium on tenant evictions, will expire at the end of December.
House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, hope to link long-awaited relief from COVID-19 with a sweeping $ 1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that lawmakers are also trying to adopt this month.
Lawmakers passed $ 3 trillion in COVID-19 aid earlier this year, but have not been able to agree on further relief since April.
Mnuchin’s proposal followed a series of maneuvers carried out by politicians on Capitol Hill earlier on Tuesday.
There have been new discussions on the U.S. Capitol over adding a stimulus check of $ 1,200 per person for Americans to the new COVID-19 package, similar to checks sent out earlier this year.
Pelosi, in a quick chat in the hallway with reporters, said she hoped checks for $ 1,200 could be included.
“I hope. But it’s really more for the president (Donald Trump) if he agrees to do this, but we are all for,” she said.
Senator Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said senators heard from the White House that Trump would support sending a new round of $ 1,200 stimulus checks to individuals.
Separately, McConnell has offered to set aside the corporate liability shield, a controversial pet provision – but only if Democrats agree to set aside Pelosi’s request for $ 160 billion to help states and local governments to benefit from tax relief.
“What I recommend is to put aside the responsibility and put aside the states and the local communities, and pass on the things that we can agree on, knowing full well that we will come back to that after the first of the year, “McConnell told reporters.
“Why not put aside the two obviously most contentious issues?”
– Steven Mnuchin (@ stevenmnuchin1) December 8, 2020
McConnell’s offer was immediately rejected by Democrats. He had previously sent more positive signals that state and local tax relief should likely be part of a COVID-19 relief deal given democratic control in the House.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said the ongoing bipartisan negotiations were the best way to reach a deal.
“Leader McConnell refused to be part of the bipartisan negotiations and now he is sabotaging the bipartite negotiations in good faith because his partisan ideological effort is not being well received,” Schumer said.
Notably, U.S. airlines would receive $ 17 billion for four months of payroll support as part of the $ 908 billion Senate bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal put forward last week, aides from two said. US senators.
The offices of Senators Mitt Romney and Mark Warner said the plan includes $ 15 billion for transit systems, $ 4 billion for airports, $ 8 billion for private buses and $ 1 billion for the Amtrak passenger railroad.
Congress and President-elect Joe Biden can decide next year whether more funds should be approved beyond March, Senator Joe Manchin said.