September 30, 2020 / Shahar Ziv, Contributor
After weeks of fizzling negotiations, there is a modicum of renewed hope for a bipartisan deal on another coronavirus relief bill. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have spoken several times over the past few days trying to bridge a seemingly intractable divide between Republicans and Democrats. On Tuesday, the two spoke by phone for nearly 50 minutes and reviewed provisions from the updated Heroes Act proposal that Democrats had unveiled on Monday evening. The two did not reach an agreement, but decided to speak again on Wednesday. Mnuchin is expected to come to Wednesday’s meeting with a counteroffer, according to two people with knowledge of the talks. Mnuchin has indicated the offer will closely resemble the $1.5 trillion bipartisan proposal that a bipartisan group in the House, unveiled earlier in September.
Stimulus Gap Between Democrats And Republicans
The updated Heroes Act that Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled on Monday scaled back the proposal’s cost from $3.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion. This leaves not only a sizeable gap between Democrats and the White House, but also a chasm between Democrats and Senate Republicans. The White House has indicated that a $1.5 billion proposal from a bipartisan group in the House was “not a showstopper.” While that divide may be surmountable, the gap between the $300 billion proposal that Senate Republicans most recently voted on and the updated Heroes Act may prove insuperable.
There are a plethora of issues dividing the two sides, including how much aid is needed to safely reopen schools and for coronavirus testing and tracing; however, the most contentious items relate to the magnitude of federal weekly unemployment benefits as well as aid to states and cities.