For her part, Pelosi issued a statement again criticizing Trump for caring chiefly about the direct payments.
“A fly on the wall or wherever else it might land in the Oval Office tells me that the President only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the market to go up,” Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues.
She defended her hardline position on a Tuesday conference call with fellow Democrats, claiming Democrats have more leverage than ever. But the risk of emerging empty-handed until next year appears very real.
To recap, talks on the latest potential round of COVID relief began in July, collapsed in August, and were revived last month. Last week alone saw Trump cause the talks to collapse on Tuesday, only to revive them heading into the weekend. They then cratered again on Saturday after Trump’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal took heavy fire from both Democrats and Trump’s GOP allies.
Republicans are back to offering smaller, targeted aid that would permit endangered party members to again go on record in favor of aid, even if it’s a nonstarter with Democrats and opposed by Trump.
“What I hear from Sen. McConnell is once again take a little piece and be satisfied. What I hear from the president just the opposite,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “Can the two of them sit down and agree? Wouldn’t that be a breakthrough?”
Some Democrats are convinced that Joe Biden is poised to reclaim the White House and have been pressuring Pelosi to strike a less ambitious deal that would deliver aid now rather than letting the economy to continue to struggle without help until next year. Pelosi’s response was to gather statements from a host of committee chairmen criticizing the administration’s latest offer.
“If Congress doesn’t act, the next president will inherit a real mess,” said Harvard economist Jason Furman, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama. “If the Mnuchin offer could be passed by the Senate — which is a huge “if” — that would be a lot better than waiting to get even more in January.”