WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday called on Congress to pass a coronavirus relief bill using leftover funds from the small business loan program as negotiations on a more comprehensive package face resistance.
Their proposal was the latest twist in the on-again, off-again talks to try to secure more stimulus for the economy.
In a letter to House and Senate members, Mnuchin and Meadows said the White House would continue to talk to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but that Congress should “immediately vote on a bill” that would enable the use of unused Paycheck Protection Program funds.
“The all or nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote.
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 after Trump earlier last week said he was calling off negotiations until after the Nov. 3 election.
Trump’s reversal and higher offer drew criticism from at least 20 Senate Republicans, who said they were concerned a deal would cost Republicans support in the upcoming elections.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he thought Senate Republicans would eventually come around.
“I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it,” he said, adding that there will be “further efforts of negotiation” on a package this week.
Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Bill Berkrot