Pelosi says 'serious differences' between Democrats, White House on COVID-19 aid

Pelosi says 'serious differences' between Democrats, White House on COVID-19 aid

Nancy Pelosi (1)
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters during her weekly press conference at the US Capitol on Aug 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Olivier DOULIERY)

WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday (Sep 1) that "serious differences" remain between Democrats and the White House over coronavirus relief legislation.

"Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America's working families are facing," Pelosi said in a statement.

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No negotiations on another round of coronavirus aid have taken place since early August, when talks collapsed as congressional Democrats and the Republican Trump administration could not bridge a gap of more than US$1 trillion between their proposed relief packages for small businesses, state and local governments, school districts and healthcare providers.

"In our conversation, I reiterated the hope that Republicans will come to the table and work with Democrats to save the lives and livelihoods of the American people," Pelosi said.

In mid-May, House Democrats approved a fifth coronavirus-response bill this year totaling more than US$3 trillion. Months later, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell responded with a US$1 trillion bill that the Senate has not voted upon.

Mnuchin said on Monday he hoped McConnell would unveil a new bill next week. Some Republicans oppose new aid out of concern over a massive and growing budget deficit predicted to approach US$4 trillion this year.

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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said last Friday that Trump was willing to sign a US$1.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, up from an initial proposal of US$1 trillion.

Pelosi had reduced Democrats' initial US$3 trillion demand to US$2.2 trillion but was insisting on the need for new funds for state and local governments, schools and coronavirus testing and tracing of infections.

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Source: Reuters/kv