White House seeks limited coronavirus relief bill, promises further talks on broader stimulus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Sunday called on Congress to pass a stripped-down coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from an expired small-business loan program, as negotiations on a broader package ran into resistance.

The administration proposal, which Democrats dismissed as inadequate, was the latest twist in on-again, off-again talks to try to secure more stimulus, as the economy struggles to recover from coronavirus-related shutdowns that threw millions of Americans out of work.

In a letter to lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of State Mark Meadows said they would continue to talk to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to reach agreement on a comprehensive bill.

But they said Congress should “immediately vote” on legislation to enable the use of the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds, which total around $130 billion.

“The all or nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote.

A spokesman for Pelosi, the lead Democratic negotiator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Representative Nita Lowey, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, rejected the administration’s offer in a statement later on Sunday as “woefully inadequate.”

“We can only reopen our economy and set the foundation for a strong recovery if we support state and local governments on the frontline of this crisis,” Lowey said in a statement.

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern told reporters the unused funds would be used to reopen the Payroll Protection Program, which expired earlier this year, to “allow businesses to continue to use it to keep their employees employed.”

President Donald Trump on Friday offered a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package in talks with Pelosi after urging his team on Twitter to “go big” – moving closer to Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion proposal. That came days after Trump abruptly called off negotiations until after the Nov. 3 election in which he is seeking re-election.

Trump’s reversal and higher offer drew criticism from Senate Republicans, some of whom are uneasy about the national debt and whether a deal would cost Republicans votes next month.

Federal Reserve officials have urged Congress to be aggressive. The head of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank said the recovery had “flattened out,” indicating the need for further stimulus.

“A lot of people are suffering. A lot of small businesses are suffering,” Minneapolis Fed chief Neel Kashkari said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Republicans would eventually come around.

“I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it,” he said, adding there would be “further efforts of negotiation” on a package this week.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Tim Ahmann and Peter Cooney

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Biden promises U.S. mayors he will be a partner in the White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured U.S. mayors on Saturday he would be an active partner in the White House in helping them respond to racial justice protests and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to union carpenters during a campaign event at the Jerry Alander Carpenter Training Center in Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth, Minnesota, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“If I am elected, you will have direct access to the White House,” Biden, who is challenging Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, told the fall leadership meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a virtual address from his home in Delaware.

“It is all from the bottom up. It doesn’t go from the top down,” he said. “Whether your city is red or blue, I’m going to be there, I promise you.”

Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama for eight years, said he spoke to more than 200 mayors to get their input during the Obama administration’s recovery efforts after the 2008 economic crisis.

“That’s the same approach we should be taking today,” he said.

Biden leads Trump in national polls, although polls in crucial state battlegrounds show a much closer race as the two prepare for their first one-on-one debate on Tuesday.

Biden criticized Trump for failing to develop a national plan to attack the coronavirus, and for not working to bring together congressional leaders to negotiate a new relief package for cities and states. Formal COVID-19 relief talks have been stalled for weeks.

He also slammed Trump for his divisive rhetoric on the racial justice protests against police brutality playing out on American streets.

Trump, who has made law and order a principal theme of his re-election bid, has singled out Democratic-led cities such as Portland, Oregon, as “anarchist jurisdictions” that should have federal funding cut.

“It’s the only strategy this president seems to know,” Biden said. “We can disagree on policies, but we have to cooperate.”

Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Richard Chang

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Biden Promises U.S. Mayors He Will Be a Partner in the White House | Top News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured U.S. mayors on Saturday he would be an active partner in the White House in helping them respond to racial justice protests and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“If I am elected, you will have direct access to the White House,” Biden, who is challenging Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, told the fall leadership meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in a virtual address from his home in Delaware.

“It is all from the bottom up. It doesn’t go from the top down,” he said. “Whether your city is red or blue, I’m going to be there, I promise you.”

Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama for eight years, said he spoke to more than 200 mayors to get their input during the Obama administration’s recovery efforts after the 2008 economic crisis.

“That’s the same approach we should be taking today,” he said.

Biden leads Trump in national polls, although polls in crucial state battlegrounds show a much closer race as the two prepare for their first one-on-one debate on Tuesday.

Biden criticized Trump for failing to develop a national plan to attack the coronavirus, and for not working to bring together congressional leaders to negotiate a new relief package for cities and states. Formal COVID-19 relief talks have been stalled for weeks.

He also slammed Trump for his divisive rhetoric on the racial justice protests against police brutality playing out on American streets.

Trump, who has made law and order a principal theme of his re-election bid, has singled out Democratic-led cities such as Portland, Oregon, as “anarchist jurisdictions” that should have federal funding cut.

“It’s the only strategy this president seems to know,” Biden said. “We can disagree on policies, but we have to cooperate.”

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Richard Chang)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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