Mnuchin-Pelosi Talk Stimulus at 3 p.m. in Pre-Election Endgame
(Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will make what could be a final try at a pre-election deal on a U.S. fiscal-stimulus package Tuesday.
With Mnuchin phoning in from a Middle East trip, he and Pelosi plan to speak at 3 p.m. Tuesday to try and patch up differences between the White House and Democrats on the welter of issues that have prevented agreement since talks began in July.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said he had “no forecast” on whether an agreement will come, speaking to reporters Tuesday.
In the run-up to the call, President Donald Trump continued to blame the speaker for holding things up.
“Here’s the problem: she doesn’t want to do anything until after the election, because she thinks that helps her,” Trump said on Fox News Tuesday. “I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats. Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will,” he also said, reiterating that he’s willing to go beyond the $2.2 trillion top-line number Democrats favor.
U.S. stocks have been swinging from gains to losses for weeks on the array of headlines on the on-again, off-again negotiations. The S&P 500 Index was up 0.6% as of 11:45 a.m. on Wall Street, after tumbling 1.6% Monday.
Huge Government Stimulus Isn’t a Given: Wall Street Votes
Areas of division in the talks include the scale of assistance to state and local authorities, tax credits Democrats want for lower-income families, liability protections that Republicans are pushing but Democrats oppose, and a repeal of a credit for past business-tax losses that Republicans want to keep.
One potential, unintended beneficiary of the lack of any deal could be Senate Republicans who have opposed the $1.8 trillion-or-more size proposed by the White House. Voting against a bill would showcase a split in the GOP days before Nov. 3.
Senate Republicans on Tuesday will attempt to proceed with one of two planned votes on smaller-scale stimulus efforts that both the Trump administration and the House Democratic majority oppose.
With Election Day in two weeks, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to shame Democrats for what he described as an “all or nothing” approach with their insistence on a $2.2 trillion bill.
McConnell Tuesday will try to secure a vote on legislation allowing unused funds from the March stimulus law to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program to aid small businesses. On Wednesday he plans a $500 billion stimulus, along the lines of what he tried and failed to pass last month.
It’s the latest positioning for Republicans who may be seeking to portray an image of supporting fiscal discipline in the event that Joe Biden wins the White House and seeks more expansive federal spending. The No. 2 Senate Republican, John Thune, underscored Monday that “it would be hard” to find enough GOP members to back a $1.8 trillion stimulus, the scale of the White House’s most recent proposal.
Even so, Trump Tuesday reiterated his view that McConnell will proceed with any bill agreed between the administration and Pelosi. “He’ll be on board if something comes,” he said.
Meantime, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer again rejected McConnell’s moves for skinny assistance packages. “The Republican proposal was unacceptable a month ago. It remains unacceptable now -- even more so that the crisis has gotten even worse,” he said Monday.
Trump administration officials keep insisting that Senate Republicans will come around. An easier outcome for McConnell will be if the talks between Pelosi and Mnuchin fall through.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Monday that Democratic committee chairmen have been directed to work with their Republican counterparts in the Senate to resolve the most stubborn sticking points.
They have plenty to work on. In a conference call earlier Monday, Pelosi told House Democrats that significant areas of disagreement are standing in the way of any deal. House committee chairmen also explained why they should hold firm on their priorities for coronavirus relief.
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