Mnuchin makes $916B COVID-19 aid proposal; Pelosi, Schumer name it ‘unacceptable’

Congressional negotiations stay gummed up over key sticking factors.

The White Home superior a $916 billion provide on coronavirus aid Tuesday night time that features help to state and native governments in addition to legal responsibility protections for companies, faculties and hospitals, in accordance with an announcement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin’s proposal comes after Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell earlier Tuesday advised gutting one thing Republicans have been making an attempt to safe — legal responsibility protections for faculties, hospitals and companies — and one thing Democrats wished to incorporate — help to state and native governments — from a separate bipartisan proposal, threatening to derail the hassle.

Additional complicating issues, a bunch of progressive Democrats penned a letter demanding that checks be despatched on to Individuals.

“Merely acknowledged, given the horrific extent of the present disaster and the desperation that working households throughout this nation are experiencing, this proposal doesn’t go wherever close to far sufficient,” the senators wrote of their letter demanding direct checks and removing of legal responsibility protections.

They usually have an unlikely ally: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

Mnuchin’s provide is barely greater than the $908 billion bipartisan Senate proposal and contains each legal responsibility reform and help to state and native. It repurposes remaining cash from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid invoice whereas drawing a further $429 billion in Treasury funds. It is unclear if that cash could be used for direct checks to Individuals, however in accordance with sources, Republicans would again a $600 direct examine.

Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer referred to as the provide “unacceptable” in a joint assertion. They mentioned it cuts funding allotted within the bipartisan invoice for unemployment insurance coverage.

“Whereas it’s progress that Chief McConnell has signed off on a $916 billion provide that’s based mostly off of the bipartisan framework, the President’s proposal should not be allowed to impede the bipartisan Congressional talks which can be underway,” their assertion reads. “Members of the Home and Senate have been engaged in good-faith negotiations and proceed to make progress. The bipartisan talks are the very best hope for a bipartisan answer.”

Whereas many members have not but reacted to Mnuchin’s proposal, it is doable it might falter on the identical sticking factors slowing the bipartisan proposal: the legal responsibility protections and state and native funding.

“What I like to recommend is we put aside legal responsibility and put aside state and native and move these issues that we will agree on, realizing full nicely we’ll be again at this after the primary of the yr,” McConnell mentioned Tuesday.

McConnell’s transfer off legal responsibility protections, as soon as a pink line for him, marks a major concession from the chief. However his proposal is conditional on Democrats giving up the $160 billion in help to state and native governments and it’s going nowhere quick.

Schumer threw chilly water on McConnell’s proposal earlier Tuesday. He mentioned Democrats have been contacted native leaders who say they’ll quickly be pressured to put off important employees like firefighters, law enforcement officials and sanitation employees with out an infusion of money from Congress.

“Inside the Senate many Republicans help state and native funding,” Schumer mentioned. “State and native funding is bipartisan not like the intense company legal responsibility proposal Chief McConnell made which has no Democratic help,” Schumer mentioned.

Sen. Joe Manchin, a member of the bipartisan group, was pissed off McConnell’s suggestion.

“If he retains throwing this and that and every little thing else and no matter, they do not desire a deal,” Manchin mentioned. “Mitch would not desire a deal.”

Regardless of squabbles on the management stage, the bipartisan group continued their work in earnest, assembly in small teams Tuesday night as they inch towards hammering out remaining areas of competition.

On the 2 most important provisions inflicting hassle, gradual progress is being made.

“We’re shifting ahead,” Manchin mentioned. “We’re not giving up.”

Sources instructed ABC Information that members are nearing an settlement on state and native help. Republicans have opposed the measure out of concern that some states that don’t want help will obtain funds, whereas others might obtain bailout cash for use for bills incurred unrelated to the pandemic. The group is quietly engaged on the small print regarding who will qualify for federal funds and the way these funds will probably be managed.

The group can be shifting in direction of consensus on legal responsibility protections which had been initially opposed Democrats on account of considerations that employees wouldn’t be protected. The bipartisan group is contemplating implementing a six-month moratorium on lawsuits to provide states time to implement their very own insurance policies. However the thorniest piece of this advanced situation seems to be coping with retroactive protections for incidents which will have already occurred.

ABC Information’ Mariam Khan and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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