BUSINESS Democratic leader, White House official continue COVID-19 relief talks

BUSINESS

Democratic leader, White House official continue COVID-19 relief talks

Xinhua

14:20, October 02, 2020

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 1, 2020. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday continued talks on the next COVID-19 relief package, but there are still major differences to be bridged in key areas. (Photo: Xinhua)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday continued talks on the next COVID-19 relief package, but there are still major differences to be bridged in key areas.

"Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin spoke by phone today at 1 p.m. The two discussed further clarifications on amounts and language but distance on key areas remain," Drew Hammill, spokesman and deputy chief of staff for the House speaker, said on Twitter, adding "their conversation will continue this afternoon."

At a press conference earlier Thursday morning, Pelosi said the two sides are still far apart on the total amount of relief package and how it would be apportioned.

"We not only have a dollars debate, we have a values debate," Pelosi said, noting significant differences remain in areas involving child tax credit and aid to state and local governments.

House Democrats on Monday unveiled a scaled-back 2.2-trillion-U.S.-dollar COVID-19 relief package, attempting to pressure the White House and Republicans to reach a deal before the presidential election in November.

However, some Senate Republicans have signaled that they're not willing to support any package that costs over 1.5 trillion dollars to salvage the economy reeling from the pandemic. Earlier this month, Senate Republicans failed to advance a slimmed-down proposal, which contained roughly 650 billion dollars in total spending.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday confirmed that the administration had offered Pelosi an approximately 1.6 trillion dollars package, up from the 1.5 trillion dollars previously suggested.

"It is a good proposal, but it's one that she is not interested in," McEnany said at a press briefing. "I would say Nancy Pelosi is not being serious. If she becomes serious, then we can have a discussion here."

"This isn't half a loaf. What they're offering is the heel of the loaf," Pelosi said Thursday on Bloomberg TV of the White House proposal. "It's no use going into a negotiation just saying you'll take the path of least resistance."

Economists, as well as Federal Reserve officials, have argued more fiscal relief is needed to sustain the economic recovery, warning of dire consequences if further fiscal support is not provided in time.

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