U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried again Wednesday to agree on a long-stalled coronavirus relief package before Congress adjourns so lawmakers can campaign ahead of the November 3 election.
Mnuchin and Pelosi discussed details of the aid plan that could send more money to American families and businesses, restore unemployment aid to millions of workers laid off from jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, provide assistance to state and local governments, and offer liability protection to businesses.
The sticking point in the discussions was the extent of the aid. The Democrat-controlled House is preparing to vote on a $2.2 trillion deal opposed by Republicans, while Mnuchin, representing President Donald Trump, told CNBC the White House offer was about $1.5 trillion.
"I think there is a reasonable compromise here. ... It's something the president very much wants to get done," Mnuchin said.
As he walked into the meeting with Pelosi, the Treasury chief told reporters, "Going to see the speaker, see if we can make some good progress today."
Pelosi told MSNBC she was "hopeful" of a deal, even as she said that Democrats and Republicans didn't have "shared values" about how much more money Americans and businesses need because of the pandemic.
The U.S. death toll is greater than 206,000 - more than in any other country in the world - and more than 7.2 million Americans have been infected, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Millions of workers remain unemployed.
"I always want to keep the door open for us to have a solution," Pelosi said. "It's a negotiation. We won't get everything we want, but they're very disdainful. They're disdainful of working families in our country."
Even if Mnuchin and Pelosi agree on a package, it is unclear whether the Republican-controlled Senate will accept it.
The Mnuchin-Pelosi meeting was their first in-person discussion since bipartisan talks collapsed in early August.