October 29, 2020

Dead, Alive, on Life Support? Confusion Reigns on Stimulus as Talks Continue

The speaker, for her part, ruled out the prospect of voting on a stand-alone aid package for airlines without a commitment that the Trump administration would agree to a broader pandemic relief plan to help struggling Americans, declaring that “there is no stand-alone bill without a bigger bill.”

It was also unclear whether a stand-alone bill addressing the airline relief would secure enough support in either chamber to reach the president’s desk. Two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, raised concerns about the prospect of voting on such legislation without debate or “adequate protections for taxpayers.”

“No one wants to see layoffs, but we have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer resources are used in an appropriate and equitable manner,” the senators said in a statement.

Behind the scenes, private talks between Ms. Pelosi, top Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to hold out the tantalizing prospect that an agreement could be reached. But the speaker, her position bolstered by the president publicly taking credit on Tuesday for torpedoing the talks, made it clear to the administration that any deal would be on her terms. She said she had told Mr. Mnuchin that her willingness to consider an airline rescue measure was contingent on the administration’s agreement to a broader stimulus plan.

With Mr. Trump largely disengaged from negotiations, Mr. Mnuchin, according to aides in both parties, has long been seen as increasingly eager to reach an agreement.

But Republicans, particularly in the Senate, are wary of how much Mr. Mnuchin has been willing to concede to Ms. Pelosi and Democrats in previous negotiations and what they have been forced to accept in coronavirus legislation. Mr. Trump’s decision to abruptly halt negotiations with a series of Twitter posts did little to bolster Mr. Mnuchin’s credibility, though Ms. Pelosi said the Treasury secretary claimed he had known in advance what the president was going to do.

“I said, you knew he was going to tweet? You knew he was going to tweet that after you had engaged in months of negotiations with the speaker of the House?” she said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/08/us/politics/stimulus-talks-pelosi-trump.html

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