House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that they plan to resume formal negotiations toward a stimulus bill that would include stimulus check 2. The first set of talks fizzled out in early August when the two sides failed to reach an agreement.
The Hill reports (opens in new tab) that both sides have acknowledged the agreement to come back to the table. In the weeks since talks stalled, Pelosi and Mnuchin have spoken over the phone multiple times but failed to make substantial progress.
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In preparation for resumed negotiations, Pelosi has asked committee heads in the House to prepare a pared-down stimulus proposal with a price tag of around $2.4 trillion (opens in new tab).
In recent weeks, Pelosi has held firm to her demand of a $2.2 trillion package, while the Trump administration has offered spending in the range of $1.5 trillion — though President Trump himself has suggested support for higher numbers.
According to Politico (opens in new tab), Pelosi actually asked Democratic lawmakers to begin drafting a new bill in August, but the legislators will be updating it this week. The new package is likely to provide short-term federal unemployment benefits as well as relief for state and local governments, and the House could vote on it before members leave town on Oct. 2.
Meanwhile, members of Business Roundtable, a group of corporate executives, are calling for "major" stimulus spending to prevent further economic damage.
"Further major support from the federal government is necessary to prevent economic recovery from being derailed," Business Roundtable President Joshua Bolten said, according to the Washington Post.
Pressure on Pelosi
Pelosi has been under pressure from moderates in her party to move a stimulus package forward, especially as Election Day inches closer and Democrats who won in normally Republican districts in 2018 are worried about their seats. And a bipartisan group of House members this week called for leaders to keep lawmakers in session in Washington until a deal is reached and voted on.
Pelosi has said the House will stay in session, but lawmakers will be allowed to leave for their districts and vote remotely. The House isn't scheduled for any votes (opens in new tab) between Oct. 2 and Nov. 16. The Senate hangs on until Oct. 9 (opens in new tab), then comes back Nov. 9.
The House already passed a second stimulus bill — the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act — in May, but Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have been unable to reconcile that with the $1.1 trillion HEALS Act put forward by the Senate GOP leadership in July.
The White House has been leading the negotiations for the Republican side, and the Trump administration seems to be willing to spend more than many Republican senators would like.
As things stand now, Democrats and the White House still remain around $700 billion apart. The Senate recently failed to advance its $500 billion "skinny" bill and has not moved any additional proposals forward.