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Stimulus check 2 in trouble? Trump says 'go big or go home'

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A second stimulus package and the fate of stimulus check 2 remain in limbo as House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the Trump Administration all refuse to budge on how much to spend — and what should be included — in the relief bill. 

On Tuesday (Oct. 13), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) defended the House's $2.2 trillion proposal in an interview with CNN, indicating that the Democrats have no plans to compromise with the White House, which has offered a $1.8 trillion plan of its own. 

"We represent these people, I have for over 30 years represented my constituents. I know what their needs are; I listen to them," she told host Wolf Blitzer. "And their needs are not addressed in the president's proposal. So when you say to me, ‘Why don't you accept theirs' — why don't they accept ours?"

In a conference call with House Democrats Tuesday, according to Roll Call, Pelosi agreed that a stimulus bill was urgently needed but reiterated that the White House would have to come to her.

"We really need to have an agreement, but we cannot have an agreement by just folding," Pelosi reportedly said. "I don't think our leverage has ever been greater than it is now."

Both the White House and Democratic proposals contain a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks but provide different levels of funding for unemployment insurance, child care and state and local government aid. 

In the past two weeks, President Donald J. Trump has alternated between wanting to spend a lot on a relief bill and breaking off negotiations with Democrats. Pelosi needled him in an open letter to Democratic lawmakers: "The President only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up."

Senate plans another 'skinny' bill

The Senate, meanwhile, may move in a third direction after Republican lawmakers balked at the $1.8 trillion price tag of the White House proposal last week. Their maximum number is believed to be about $1.1 trillion, but even that has never been put to a floor vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced on Tuesday that his chamber plans to consider yet another "skinny" bill that provides "targeted" relief, including some level of federal unemployment insurance as well as support for Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses, but no stimulus check 2. 

He also called out Democrats' efforts to block the Senate's legislation in order to push their own bill. The Senate GOP's previous "skinny" bill failed to move forward in a procedural vote a month ago. 

"The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly," he said.

Can Trump and the Senate agree?

Unsurprisingly, both lawmakers and the American public are getting mixed signals from President Trump, who tweeted, "STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!" shortly after McConnell proposed his latest skinny bill.

On Rush Limbaugh's nationally broadcast radio show this past Friday (Oct. 9), according to The Hill, Trump said that he "would like to see a bigger stimulus package than either Democrats or Republicans are offering."

"It would sure be great if the president and Senator McConnell were speaking to one another and had a common approach," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, (D-Illinois), said Tuesday, according to Roll Call. "Can the two of them sit down and agree? Wouldn't that be a breakthrough?"