WASHINGTON – The White House offered Democrats a $1.8 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package as President Donald Trump reverses course on stimulus negotiations, saying he wants to “Go Big.”
The proposal is a $1.8 trillion offer, according to an administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of a negotiation still underway. It is about $200 billion more than the White House’s $1.6 trillion proposal last week.
The White House’s latest offer is still smaller than the $2.2 trillion Democrats most recently offered and which Trump rejected on Tuesday. Trump seemed to undercut his administration’s negotiation Friday afternoon, telling Rush Limbaugh in an interview, “I would like to see a bigger stimulus package frankly than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering.”
White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah told reporters later Friday the administration wants to “stay below 2 trillion.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked on the phone Friday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for just over a half hour, Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said.
According to Hammill, Mnuchin “attempted” to return with a new proposal, but Hammill noted the “absence of an agreement on a strategic plan to crush the virus,” echoing a letter Pelosi sent to House Democrats earlier in the day outlining Democrats’ demands for relief provisions to include a plan for testing, contact-tracing, and vaccines. Democrats were still waiting on the text of a proposal and negotiations on the overall funding amount would continue, he said.
Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow told reporters Friday that Trump had approved a “revised” stimulus package, though he declined to provide details. Kudlow has not been part of negotiations so far, which have largely involved Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Mnuchin.
More: House passes COVID-19 stimulus bill opposed by Senate as negotiations stall out
Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!”
Pelosi said on MSNBC Friday she would talk more with Mnuchin as they worked through differences on funding amounts and on policy in the bill. Negotiations have deadlocked over provisions like funding for state and local governments and the dollar amount for a federal unemployment benefit boost. “I do hope we will have an agreement soon,” she said.
The optimism comes three days after Trump abruptly rejected the recent Democratic proposal and said he wanted to postpone any negotiations until after the November election. Since then, Trump has reversed course, saying he wanted standalone bills to send out stimulus checks and provide relief to airlines.
Any negotiated deal, however, will have to pass through the Republican-controlled Senate, where members have expressed hesitancy at spending trillions of dollars on COVID-19 relief.
At an event in Kentucky Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was “unlikely” a stimulus deal would occur before the election.
He said at another event it was “unclear” if both sides could reach a deal on another package, adding the “first item of priority in the Senate is the Supreme Court” and confirming Trump’s nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Mitch McConnell: A COVID-19 relief deal is ‘unlikely’ before Election Day
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 stimulus update: White House offers $1.8 trillion plan