Mnuchin, Pelosi Play the Blame Game as Stimulus Talks Falter
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the two top negotiators for a new round of stimulus payment, traded blame over failed coronavirus relief negotiations.
The blame game between Pelosi and Mnuchin casts doubt on whether the House Democrats and the White House will reach a stimulus deal even after next week's election.
According to The Washington Post, it started before dawn on Thursday. Pelosi dispatched a letter to Mnuchin listing multiple outstanding issues on the around $2 trillion stimulus deal.
Mnuchin was ticked off when he first learned about the letter through the media. Politico released it in its morning newsletter Playbook, publishing the letter shortly after 6 a.m. that day. But Pelosi's aides claimed they sent the letter to the Treasury Secretary shortly after midnight.
Mnuchin slammed the Speaker for sending the letter as a "political stunt" and shot back with his own account of the negotiations.
Pelosi Refuses to Compromise
Mnuchin, who has led talks on behalf of President Donald Trump, said the House Speaker was simply refusing to compromise to get the aid that many Americans need right now, Washington Times reported.
He detailed the amount of time he's allotted for the talks in the administration's attempts to meet halfway.
"I have spoken with you almost every day for the last 45 days in an attempt to reach a serious bipartisan compromise," Mnuchin wrote in a letter.
He said Pelosi's letter "inaccurately describes the status of our current negotiations" and he felt obligated to release his own public response. He added that the speaker's "ALL OR NONE approach is hurting hard-working Americans" in need of financial aid.
In her letter to Mnuchin, Pelosi noted how divided the two parties are on details of a new stimulus bill and slammed the Trump administration for rejecting Democratic demands on several issues.
"The American people are suffering, and they want us to come to an agreement to save lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy as soon as possible," Pelosi wrote.
With both letters released, it was clear that the two sides remain divided on a number of issues and hopes for a fresh stimulus deal continue to fade, noted CNN.
At this point, both sides of the negotiation are stuck in an "escalation of acrimonious finger-pointing over stalled virus-relief negotiations," said Bloomberg.
Election Day Stimulus Deal Dies Down
Both sides want to have a stimulus deal at the ready but couldn't agree on a price tag. Democratic leaders stand firmly behind their call for massive coronavirus aid, while Republican lawmakers want a small, targeted bill.
One of the sticking points Pelosi cited in her letter was an aid to state and local authorities. Seven other areas listed were: national testing-and-tracing program, state and local government funding, school safety measures, childcare funding, tax credits for working families, unemployment insurance, workplace protections, and liability issues.
A clear stimulus agreement never came close, but both Mnuchin and Pelosi insisted that they were making progress with the bill. Sometimes, Americans would notice that this was the case. They held talks on multiple occasions discussing the language of the bill.
Previously, negotiators had hoped that a deal would be finalized before Election Day. But recent talks have proven it impossible.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said it was "disappointing that the White House wasted time on this letter."
Pelosi said talks on the stimulus are not over. She is eyeing a lame-duck session after the elections to approve new aid.
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