Washington, Oct 10 : US President Donald Trump has offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package, following weeks of negotiations between the two sides on a comprehensive bill to assist American businesses and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports.
The $1.8 trillion figure is up from a $1.6 trillion offer from earlier this week, although it remains below the $2.2 trillion in the bill passed by the House Democrats last week, CNN said in a report.
The offer was made formally on Friday afternoon by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in phone call with Pelosi, The Hill news website reported.
But reacting to the development, Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted: “Of special concern, is the absence of an agreement on a strategic plan to crush the virus. For this and other provisions, we are still awaiting language from the administration as negotiations on the overall funding amount continue.”
Earlier in the day White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News that “the President has approved a revised package” and “would like to do a deal”, adding that the aides were putting the “final touches” on the package.
Also on Friday morning, Trump had said in a tweet: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big.”
Later in the day, the President said in a radio programme that he “would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering”.
The remarks were a reversal from his position on Tuesday when the President said that he would walk away from negotiations with Democrats on a relief bill.
Negotiations between the White House and Capitol Hill on a fifth round of stimulus have dragged on since the end of July without an agreement, the Hill news website reported.
As talk stalled in August, Trump acted unilaterally, signing executive orders meant to extend a federal moratorium on evictions and offer a payroll tax referral.
Before the offer was made on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cast doubt on the possibility that a deal could get passed ahead of Election Day.
“The situation is kinda murky, and I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election,” CNN quoted McConnell as saying at an event in Kentucky.
“And everybody trying to elbow for political advantage. I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.”