Stimulus checks: Trump says coronavirus stimulus negotiations are ‘moving along’

Coronavirus stimulus

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — A top economic adviser said the White House is upping its coronavirus stimulus relief offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that coronavirus stimulus relief “negotiations are moving along. Go Big!”

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking at an event in Kentucky on Friday, said a coronavirus stimulus package is “unlikely in the next three weeks.”

McConnell described the situation as “murky” because negotiations involve people looking for “political advantage.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking to a group of first responders at Bullitt County EMS in Shepherdsville, Kentucky (Photo provided by McConnell’s press office)

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said during Friday’s event. McConnell was speaking to a group of first responders in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told reporters that “developments are positive” and that the “the bid and the offer have narrowed” in advance of a telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

McConnell also said he has not seen President Trump in person since August but they speak on the phone almost every day.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for 40 minutes on Thursday about a coronavirus stimulus relief bill, according to a Pelosi spokesperson.

“Their conversation focused on determining whether there is any prospect of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill. The Secretary made clear the President’s interest in reaching such an agreement,” said deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill.

At the same time, White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said President Donald Trump wants a “skinny” coronavirus relief bill that includes elements such as direct payments and a bailout to the struggling airline sector.

Pelosi’s office called the statements from Farah a contradiction of her call.

However, “the Speaker trusts that the Secretary speaks for the President,” Hammill said.

In a later update with the media, Farah said President Trump worked from the Oval Office, making calls on stimulus.

“The president remains committed to, we’d like to see airline aid,” she said. “We’d like to see sort of a skinny piecemeal bill if we’re able to get that, that will deal with PPP and with direct payments. But we’re open to going with something bigger, but we’re not going to operate from the 2.2 trillion that the speaker laid out.”

PPP is the Paycheck Protection Program, which expired in August.

On Friday, Pelosi issued a downbeat assessment in a letter to her colleagues but expressed some optimism in an appearance on MSNBC.

“I do hope that we’ll have an agreement soon,” Pelosi said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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