White House officials accuse Democrats of conducting business stimulus talks

White House officials accuse Democrats of conducting business stimulus talks

Senior officials in the Trump administration accused Congress Democrats of putting negotiations on a new stimulus package on hold, which further clouded hopes of an agreement before the presidential election.

Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, said on Friday from the White House that Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, was "still entrenched" on several matters.

"If she wants to compromise, there will be a deal," said Mnuchin. "We have made great strides in many areas, but there are still some significant differences that we are working on."

Larry Kudlow, White House economic adviser, told Fox Business Network television, "We're probably closer than we were a week or two ago. But [there are] still big political differences."

Mr Mnuchin and Ms. Pelosi have tried to reach an agreement on up to $ 2 billion in government relief to the US economy to keep the recovery from stalling, but have problems with the general election in less than two weeks ahead.

We'll do the math and hope we can resolve some of the other differences

The House Democrats had passed a $ 3 billion bill back in May, and another smaller version worth $ 2.2 billion last month – both dismissed as excessive by the Republicans and the White House.

But with Mr Trump lagging behind in the polls and slowing job creation, his administration has felt mounting pressure to take a deal, and top officials are trying to blame Democrats for failing to hit a deal.

“Nancy Pelosi does not want to approve it. We are ready, ready and able to do something, ”said Trump during the second and final presidential debate on Thursday evening.

White House criticism masks the deep divide within the Republican Party over the merits of a major new stimulus package. Some senior lawmakers have suggested that this is not necessary, while others have called for a compromise.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has long been a stimulus skeptic, and Democrats are cautious about reaching an agreement that the upper chamber of Congress couldn't pass.

"As you know, the Republican leader in the United States Senate said he couldn't pass," said Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, in the debate on Thursday. "Why isn't [Mr. Trump] talking to his Republican friends?"

Ms. Pelosi had raised hopes that a deal might be imminent on Thursday and said the negotiators were "almost there". But on Friday she was more careful.

"We're doing the math and we hope we can fix some of the other differences. We could do that before the election if the president wants to. I think he does. I think – I know we do," she said the news channel MSNBC.

While the White House and Congress agreed on a few things in the talks – like a new round of direct payments to families and the restoration of unemployment benefits in emergencies – they disagreed on state and local government funding, job security and liability protection for companies.

Ms. Pelosi has also increasingly emphasized the need for adequate funding for the coronavirus response, including testing, tracking, treatment and additional funds to safely reopen schools, with many public school districts still teaching remotely.

The stalemate has continued even as Federal Reserve officials and many private economists have warned that without further fiscal relief, the US could suffer more corporate failures and bankruptcies, slower job creation or even net job losses, and greater long-term damage to America economic structure.

"In addition to an accommodative monetary policy, more targeted fiscal support will be needed to turn this K-shaped recovery into a broad and inclusive recovery," Fed governor Lael Brainard said in a speech this week.