Democratic leaders launched a last-ditch effort to revive collapsing Washington talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money, summoning Trump administration negotiators to the Capitol on Friday in hopes of generating progress before a deadline at day’s end.
Both sides said the future of the negotiations was uncertain after a combative meeting on Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of State Mark Meadows Friday afternoon. President Donald Trump says he is considering executive orders to address evictions and unemployment insurance, but they appear unlikely to have much impact.
In a news conference Friday, Pelosi said she offered a major concession to Republicans.
Watch the news conference in the video player above.
“We’ll go down $1 trillion, you go up $1 trillion,” Pelosi said. She said that her latest offer is in the $2.7 trillion neighborhood; a series of GOP offers issued privately has brought the White House offer into the $1.5 trillion range.
Both sides have adopted a hard line in the talks, though the Trump team has been more open in disclosing a handful of its proposed compromises. Republicans were late to agree to the talks and have become frustrated by the inflexible tactics of Pelosi and Schumer, who have been exuding confidence in a political and legislative landscape that appeared tilted in their favor.
The Democratic pair say the federal coronavirus aid package needs to be huge to meet the moment: a surge in cases and deaths, double-digit joblessness and the threat of poverty for millions of the newly unemployed.
A breakdown in the talks would put at risk more than $100 billion to help reopen schools, a fresh round of $1,200 direct payments to most people and hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments to help them avoid furloughing workers and cutting services as tax revenues shrivel.