Exclusive: White House asks Congress to approve three arms sales to Taiwan – sources

A general view of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is moving forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval, two sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.

In September, Reuters reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the U.S. State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales, the sources said.

A State Department spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

There was no immediate comment from Taiwan’s representative office in Washington.

The sales notified to Congress were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Patricia Zengerle and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Franklin Paul and Matthew Lewis

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White House calls for Congress to release unused small business loans

Oct. 11 (UPI) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday sent a letter to Congress calling for the release of unused Paycheck Protection Program funds amid ongoing talks on an additional round of COVID-19 stimulus.

Mnuchin and Meadows urged lawmakers to release the $134 billion in loans provided to small businesses to maintain operations and retain employees included in the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March, while also criticizing Congress — particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — for their “all-or-nothing” approach to negotiating additional stimulus.

“The House has passed two separate partisan bills instead of compromising with us on bipartisan legislation like we have done in the past,” they wrote. “We will continue to try to work with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer. It is not just about the top-line number but also about legislation that can be passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Trump to help the American people.”

The letter comes after Mnuchin introduced a $1.8 trillion proposal on Friday, raising the White House’s previous offer of $1.6 trillion and inching closer to the $2.2 trillion package passed by the Democratic-led House earlier this month.

Mnuchin’s proposal was met with criticism from Democrats who believed it was not enough and some Republicans who believe the funding is too high.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said that he believes Senate Republicans can come to an agreement in support of a newly proposed $1.8 trillion package despite host Jake Tapper noting that 20 GOP members of the chamber criticized the latest proposal from the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as a “death knell” for the measure.

“I don’t think it’s dead at all. I spoke to Secretary Mnuchin last evening. Look, don’t forget, the Republicans in the Senate put up their own bill a few weeks ago and got 53 votes, I think it was,” Kudlow said, referring to a so-called “skinny” $300 billion relief bill that failed to meet the 60 vote threshold to pass in September.

“I think, if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it.”

Democrats have pushed to reinstate enhanced federal unemployment insurance at $600 a week through January, while Mnuchin last offered $400 a week at most. The Trump administration has also resisted providing states with any more than $150 billion in federal funding they received in a stimulus package earlier this year, while Pelosi has called for at least $436 billion in relief for states.

In a letter to Democratic colleagues on Saturday, Pelosi said the latest offer from the White House was “insufficient,” calling on the administration to commit to addressing issues related to combatting the virus such as testing, contact tracing and treatment.

“Until these serious issues are resolved, we remain at an impasse,” she wrote. “However, I remain hopeful that the White House will join us to

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Chamber of Commerce endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced its support for former White House physician Ronny Jackson’s bid for a House seat.

Jackson, a Republican, is a former physician to Presidents Trump and Obama and a retired Navy rear admiral. He is running for retiring Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Senate passes stopgap spending bill hours before shutdown deadline | Brief military mentions in chaotic first Trump, Biden debate | Lawmakers grills Pentagon officials over Germany drawdown Lawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump’s Germany drawdown Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon’s use of COVID-19 funds MORE‘s open seat in Texas.

“As our nation faces many challenges and is collectively working to not just reopen our economy but return to growth and expanded opportunities for all Americans, we need leaders like Ronny Jackson. He has a proven track record of standing up for good policies,” Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue said in a statement on Thursday.

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Jackson faces Democratic candidate Gus Trujillo and Libertarian Jack Westbrook in the race to replace Thornberry. The Cook Political Report deems the open seat “Solid Republican.”

Trump tapped Jackson to be Veterans Affairs Secretary in 2018 but the White House withdrew his nomination over allegations that he overprescribed pills and would repeatedly be drunk while on duty.

The doctor recently made headlines for defending the White House’s coronavirus-related protocols in a Fox & Friends interview, following Trump’s positive COVID-19 test.

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Congress remains vulnerable to Covid despite White House outbreak

WASHINGTON — The White House coronavirus outbreak, which has infected nearly 20 people in President Donald Trump’s circle, sheds new light on the lack of contact tracing and safety protocols in place for the House and Senate.



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And while those working around President Donald Trump are tested daily, the Capitol has no such protocols.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ignored multiple questions from reporters this week when asked if widespread testing should be offered in the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday on MSNBC “Most of the people in our world who have come into contact and have been tested positive did not get the virus at the Capitol. It was in other encounters, including at the White House.”

Since the offer of rapid testing machines was initially made by the White House in May, Pelosi and McConnell have remained in agreement on one thing: no widespread testing on Capitol Hill, despite pressure from leaders on both sides of the aisle to do so.

Timeline: How coronavirus spread through the Trump administration

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“With just so many bodies coming in and out of here, I don’t understand why the speaker would continue to not have testing,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who supported the White House’s offer since July, told reporters on Friday.

After the outbreak in the White House and three senators who had recently been there announcing they had tested positive, high-ranking lawmakers endorsed endorsed widespread testing for the 535 members of Congress and Capitol staff.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in the hours after Trump’s diagnosis “This episode demonstrates that the Senate needs a testing and contact tracing program for senators, staff, and all who work in the Capitol complex.”

McConnell and Schumer agreed to recess the Senate until Oct. 19 following the outbreak, with the exception of committee hearings — meaning confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will go on as planned beginning Oct. 12. It is not clear whether Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will require proof of negative tests for those attending in person.

Despite all of this, there remains no indication that the Capitol will have any kind of precautionary measures to prevent more cases within its walls. And even now, senators are being urged against precautionary testing unless there are symptoms present.

In-depth look at the reliability of rapid Covid tests

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There is no temperature check system, no mandatory testing, and no proof of a negative Covid test required upon entry to the Capitol building. That means hundreds of lawmakers, their staff, Capitol workers, and reporters enter the complex each day without any assurances that it is safe. And every weekend, most lawmakers travel all over the country back to their home states.

There are also no apparent contact tracing measures in place. NBC News has learned that individual offices each have their own protocols on reporting positive cases and

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White House says ‘not optimistic’ about COVID-19 aid, talks with Congress are off

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday said he was not optimistic that a comprehensive deal could be reached on further COVID-19 financial aid and that the Trump administration backed a more piecemeal approach, even as he said negotiations with Congress were over.



a man wearing a suit and tie: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump's health after he was tested positive for COVID19


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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters about President Trump’s health after he was tested positive for COVID19

“We’re still willing to be engaged, but I’m not optimistic for a comprehensive deal. I am optimistic that there’s about 10 things that we can do on a piecemeal basis,” Meadows told Fox News in an interview.

Meadows did not say what 10 items the administration wanted to tackle, but reiterated President Donald Trump’s position tweeted late Tuesday night that he would back separate legislation addressing airlines, small businesses and stimulus checks for individuals.

Trump called off talks with lawmakers on pandemic aid in a tweet on Tuesday, rattling Wall Street as U.S. stocks sank. He later pulled back saying he would support a few stand-alone bills.

U.S. stock indexes appeared set to open higher on Wednesday, and airline stocks were also higher.

“The stimulus negotiations are off,” Meadows later told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “Obviously we’re looking at the potential for stand-alone bills. There’s abut 10 things that we agree on and if the Speaker is willing to look at it on a piece-by-piece basis then we’re willing to look at it,” he said referring to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Democratic-led House has already passed full legislation seeking a wide range of aid as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, infecting an estimated 7.5 million Americans and killing more than 210,600 — the highest in the world.

Pelosi on Tuesday said lawmakers would pass more aid, despite Trump’s refusal to negotiate.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Susan Heavey; Editing by Alex Richardson and Chizu Nomiyama)

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Trump White House, Congress facing unclear coronavirus implications

President Trump, several top White House aides and Republican lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, — likely restructuring the final weeks of the presidential campaign, the race to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court pick and even the day-to-day workings of the federal government.

In the days before he tested positive for the virus, President Trump kept a busy schedule that included campaign stops, fundraisers, White House events and the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Then early Friday came news that Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus that has killed more than 208,000 Americans. Before the day was over, Trump was flying to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland to be treated for mild symptoms of the virus.

“Going well, I think!” the president tweeted from the hospital late Friday, exhibiting his trademark sense of humor. “Thank you to all. LOVE!!!”

But the president was expected to be off the campaign trail until he recovers, leaving the stumping to Vice President Mike Pence and other surrogates.

Biden was also thrown by the president’s diagnosis, pulling attack ads against Trump and striking a more unifying tone after testing negative for the virus.

Trump plans to continue his day-to-day duties from the presidential suite at Walter Reed while he convalesces for the next few days, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

BRETT BAIER: COVID-19 HAS ‘CHANGED THE DYNAMIC’OF PRESIDENTIAL RACE, SUPREME COURT BATTLE

After Trump entered the hospital, news of more positive diagnoses of people close to the president emerged. Those facing troubling news included Kellyanne Conway, until recently the president’s White House counselor, and Bill Stepien, manager of the Trump 2020 Campaign.

Deputy campaign manager Justin Clark will oversee the Trump 2020 headquarters in Arlington, Va., while Stepien works remotely, Fox News has confirmed.

Trump’s diagnosis also called into question the remaining two presidential debates, set for Oct. 15 in Miami and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn. Whether Trump will still be in quarantine on those dates is uncertain.

Politicians and pundits have floated whether the debates may be canceled or possibly done virtually. Fox News’ Brett Baier said it’s even possible the president could be well enough to travel in-person to the Miami debate if he recovers by then.

As of Friday, the vice presidential debate was scheduled to go forward as planned next Wednesday with Pence and vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, who have both tested negative.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Friday evening it would be “irresponsible and dangerous” to move forward with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12 after two Republican senators on the panel – Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, confirmed they have tested positive for the virus.

However, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he intends to go forward with Barrett’s hearing as planned and senators will be allowed to join virtually if necessary.

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White House ups bid in last-ditch COVID talks with Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill of $1.6 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday. But pessimism is again seeping into the talks and the two sides switched back to attacking each other in public.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

After Pelosi said the new offer still fell short, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the speaker was “not being serious” in the negotiations.


“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” McEnany told reporters Thursday. “It’s one that she is is not interested in.”

Mnuchin and Pelosi were expected to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, but the speaker was publicly dismissive of the latest White House plan.

“This isn’t half a loaf, this is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi said in a Thursday interview on Bloomberg TV.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, appears more eager than Capitol Hill Republicans to reach an agreement.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure in hopes of getting an agreement. A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cautioned late Wednesday that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when more than $900 billion for state and local governments swelled a $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill that passed in May.

In a Wednesday evening appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

Pelosi responded Thursday, saying the administration is still far short on aid to state and local governments. And she said she won’t agree to take half a loaf now.

“Some of you have asked, ‘Isn’t something better than nothing?’ No,” Pelosi told reporters, citing the “opportunity cost” for provisions sought by Democrats but potentially lost in any rush to agreement.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A

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White House backs $400 per week jobless benefit in last-ditch COVID talks with Congress

“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” McEnany told reporters Thursday. “It’s one that she is is not interested in.”

Mnuchin and Pelosi are scheduled to talk by phone early Thursday afternoon, a Pelosi spokesman said.

The Trump administration is pressing for an agreement, more so than Capitol Hill Republicans.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed debate Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure. A vote is likely on Thursday, spokesman Drew Hammill said, depending on how the Mnuchin-Pelosi exchanges go.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cautioned late Wednesday that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when a huge $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill passed in May.

In a Wednesday evening appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

Pelosi responded Thursday, saying the administration is still far short on aid to state and local governments. And she said she won’t agree to take half a loaf now.

“Some of you have asked, ‘Isn’t something better than nothing?’ No,” Pelosi told reporters, citing the “opportunity cost” for provisions sought by Democrats but potentially lost in any rush to agreement.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A landmark $2 trillion relief bill in March passed with sweeping support and is credited with helping the economy through the spring and summer, but worries are mounting that the recovery may sputter without additional relief.

The “top line” limit upon which Pelosi, the Trump administration and Senate Republicans might be able to agree has been a subject of considerable speculation. Pelosi had drawn a hard line until recently, and talks had foundered, but failure now could mean there wouldn’t be any

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Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines

Welcome to Wednesday night’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re waiting to see if there’s going to be a deal on a new COVID-19 relief package.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was 'taken out of context' by Trump


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Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was ‘taken out of context’ by Trump

Top House Democrat: Parties ‘much closer’ to a COVID deal ‘than we’ve ever been’

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The head of the House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that the negotiators seeking an emergency coronavirus deal are “much closer” to a deal than they have been at any point during the long weeks of on-again-off-again talks.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) pointed to comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicating a willingness to embrace $1.5 trillion in new stimulus spending – a number on par with the bipartisan relief package offered last week by the Problem Solvers Caucus – noting that that figure is far closer to the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package than Republicans have previously backed.

After almost two months of stalled talks, Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have resumed the negotiations this week by phone. In some sign that progress is being made, Mnuchin met with Pelosi in the Speaker’s office on Wednesday afternoon.

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House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses

An explosive staff report from the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee found that the CEOs of Teva and Celgene raised drug prices exponentially for no reason other than to boost profits and inflate executives’ bonuses.

Oversight Democrats at a hearing on Wednesday pressed those CEOs, and put them on the defensive.

Highlights: Internal documents obtained by the committee found Celgene raised the price of the cancer drug Revlimid 22 times.

The drug, approved to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma, more than tripled in price since its launch in 2005, driven almost exclusively by the need to meet company revenue targets and shareholder earnings goals.

In 2005, a monthly supply of Revlimid was priced at $4,515. Today, the same monthly supply is priced at $16,023, a cost of $719 per pill.

Easy target: The report found that executives at Celgene and Teva specifically targeted the U.S. market for massive increases because Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices.

Context: The Democratic-led report comes just weeks before Election Day, and follows a flurry of mostly empty last-ditch efforts by President Trump aimed at showing he is taking action on drug pricing. Trump has made lowering drug prices a key part of his messaging for years, dating back to the 2016 campaign, but has little to show for all his bluster.

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Atlas, health officials feuds add to Trump coronavirus turmoil

The feuds between White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas and top public health officials are raising more questions about President Trump‘s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atlas, a

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White House Ups Bid in Last-Ditch COVID Talks With Congress | Political News

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is backing a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and is dangling the possibility of a COVID-19 relief bill above $1.5 trillion as last-ditch, pre-election negotiations hit a critical phase Thursday.

The offer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on unemployment is higher than many Republicans would like in any potential COVID deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Significant, possibly unbridgeable hurdles remain.

But the talks have gained momentum as the Trump administration presses for an agreement. On Air Force One Wednesday night, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump made an offer that was “extremely generous and certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date.”

The White House proposal yielded ground on funding for state and local governments, supporting a $250 billion infusion, and backed $20 billion in help for the struggling airline industry. Both areas are of great interest to Democrats’ union backers.

Details on the White House offer, first reported by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, were confirmed by congressional aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door discussions.

Pelosi postponed a vote Wednesday on a Democratic alternative measure but could take it up again Thursday.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying that she and Mnuchin would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said. Their negotiations were expected to resume Thursday.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides, McConnell said.

Meadow cautioned that Trump won’t approach a $2 trillion threshold. But there’s plenty of wiggle room in numbers so large, and the revenue picture for many states is not as alarming as feared when a huge $3.4 trillion Democratic aid bill passed in May.

In a Wednesday appearance on Fox Business, Mnuchin described the talks as the first serious discussions with Pelosi in several weeks and said he is raising his offer into “the neighborhood” of $1.5 trillion. That’s well above what many Senate Republicans want but would probably be acceptable to GOP pragmatists and senators in difficult races.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses. A landmark $2 trillion relief bill in March passed with sweeping support

Read more