“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