Trump open to broader COVID-19 stimulus as Pelosi, Mnuchin negotiate

  • The White House is open to a broader coronavirus stimulus plan, communications director Alyssa Farah said Thursday.
  • President Donald Trump pulled out of stimulus talks on Tuesday and called for standalone bills for certain sectors, such as the airline industry.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would not agree to airline relief without a wider stimulus bill.
  • Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke about a comprehensive relief package in a 40-minute phonecall on Thursday afternoon.
  • Mnuchin made it clear President Donald Trump was open to a “comprehensive” funding package, Pelosi’s spokesman said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration indicated on Thursday night that it was open to a broader coronavirus stimulus package — despite President Donald Trump pulling out of funding talks on Tuesday and calling for standalone relief bills.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a 40-minute phone call on Thursday afternoon to discuss “whether there is any prospect of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill,” Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet. Pelosi has said she would not support a standalone bill for airline aid, which Trump has called for, unless it accompanied a larger support package.

Mnuchin made it clear that Trump was interested in a “comprehensive” stimulus package — one that includes support for airlines, state and local government aid, and jobless benefits, Hammill said.

White House communications director Alyssa Farah initially cast doubt on whether Trump was open to a larger stimulus bill, telling reporters Thursday afternoon that “we’ve made very clear we want a skinny package.”

But later on, Farah said the administration was “open to going with something bigger” — albeit not at the level Democrats initially proposed.

Democrats want a $2.2 trillion package, while the Republicans have proposed a figure of $1.6 trillion, higher than what many Senate Republicans have said they would support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday there were “vast differences about how much we should spend,” and that Pelosi was insisting “on an outrageous amount of money.”

“Hopefully there will be a way forward soon,” he added.

Even if Pelosi and Mnuchin agree on a package, it’s not clear when, or if, a deal would pass both the House and Senate. 

Trump halted negotiations over a new COVID-19 aid package on Tuesday, saying they would only resume after the election on November 3. He later changed course and suggested he would support several smaller standalone measures, including one for the airline industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic.

Airlines are in the process of furloughing 32,000 workers, with tens of thousands more taking voluntary long-term unpaid leaves of absence. More furloughs are expected in the coming months, and next year.

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