Pelosi and Mnuchin are set to talk again on Wednesday, at which point Mnuchin is expected to come back with a more detailed response, according to two people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them.
Congress hasn’t acted to pass any new aid since the spring, and prospects for a bipartisan deal ahead of the election were looking increasingly grim. But on Monday, House Democrats released a new, $2.2 trillion bill — a slimmed-down version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act they passed in May — and Pelosi and Mnuchin resumed negotiations that had collapsed in August.
“We’re in a negotiation and hopefully we will come to a bipartisan agreement that will remove all doubt that the legislation will pass and be signed by the president,” Pelosi said Tuesday on MSNBC, when asked when the House would vote on the new bill.
Meadows also expressed a degree of optimism when questioned by reporters the Capitol, where he was spending Tuesday introducing President Trump’s new Supreme Court pick to senators.
“The secretary and I have had a couple of conversations this morning, we also had a conversation with the president, so hopefully we’ll make some progress and find a solution for the American people,” Meadows said.
The House bill includes new aid for the airline industry, as well as new small business money, a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individuals, an extension of expired $600 weekly unemployment benefits, around $500 billion for cities and states, support for schools and coronavirus testing and tracing, and more.
A number of these provisions are supported by the White House — but Mnuchin and Senate Republicans have repeatedly said the $2.2 trillion figure is too high, and they have opposed state and local aid at the level Democrats want. Mnuchin has suggested the White House could support around $1.5 trillion in new spending.
Pelosi has refused so far, at least in public, to support anything under $2.2 trillion. For weeks she resisted even releasing a new bill, instead pointing to the Heroes Act the House already passed. But she faced growing unrest from moderate House Democrats, some facing tough re-election fights, who wanted to show their constituents they were delivering, or at least trying to.
With the election looming, there are political considerations on all sides. There are a handful of endangered Senate Republicans who would also like to make a new deal — although the Supreme Court nomination fight is now the focus in the Senate.
And, Trump would like a new deal with new stimulus checks ahead of the election. That’s something Pelosi has alluded to repeatedly, saying she doesn’t want to just sign off on a bill that sends out checks with Trump’s name on them.
Jeff Stein contributed to this report.