WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is willing to sign a $1.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, a top aide said on Friday, but Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the sum was not enough to meet the needs of the American people.
Trump said later that Pelosi was only interested in bailing out states run by Democrats, casting doubt on chances of reviving stalled talks for another round of fiscal stimulus.
The new figure was put forward by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, marking a $300 billion increase from an initial $1 trillion offer from the White House and Senate Republicans.
Three weeks after talks on Capitol Hill broke down without a deal on legislation to help Americans suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, Meadows said the Republican president was “right now willing to sign something at $1.3 trillion.”
Hours later, Pelosi in a statement repeated her call for a $2.2 trillion bill and said Meadows’ offer would not meet the needs of American workers and families.
Pelosi said, among other things, the Republicans “are rejecting the funding needed for testing and tracing to crush the virus and safely reopen schools and the economy.”
She said she hoped the Republicans would accept the Democratic offer and resume negotiations.
Asked about talks between Pelosi and Meadows about another stimulus package, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on a flight to Washington from New Hampshire: “My impression is she wants to give no stimulus, all she wants is bailout for badly run Democrat states.”
He said another stimulus package would be good.
The Democratic-led House in May passed a $3.4 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which was not taken up by the Republican-dominated Senate.
Pelosi said on Thursday after a 25-minute phone call with Meadows that Democrats were willing to go down to $2.2 trillion and demanded that the Trump administration accept that figure before negotiations could resume.
The $1.3 trillion has been offered in private, Meadows said. Negotiations have involved Pelosi, Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert, David Morgan abd Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason aboard Air Force One; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Grant McCool and William Mallard)