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Pelosi, Mnuchin continue US stimulus talks as Tuesday deadline nears
[WASHINGTON] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made progress in US stimulus negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin but a Tuesday deadline for a deal is looming, an aide to the Democratic lawmaker said on Monday.
Negotiations over another stimulus package to help the economy ravaged by Covid-19 have gone on for months, with Democrats pushing a US$2.2 trillion package but Republicans wanting to spend far less.
President Donald Trump's administration proposed a US$1.8 trillion rescue measure, though Mr Trump signaled he could go bigger.
Ms Pelosi spoke with Mr Mnuchin again on Monday and the two "continued to narrow their differences" after the Speaker on Sunday said less than 48 hours remained to work out a deal.
Ms Pelosi aide Drew Hammill tweeted, "The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election. The two principals will speak again tomorrow and staff work will continue around the clock."
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly signaled he would not support a massive package, and on Monday said lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber will vote on a more narrow, US$500 billion measure to support small businesses.
"Nobody thinks this proposal would resolve every problem forever," Mr McConnell said. "What it does contain is half a trillion dollars... of good that Congress can do right now."
Democrats blocked such a bill last month, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the latest bill "remains unacceptable now, even more so that the crisis has gotten even worse."
Since business shutdowns began in March, the United States has seen tens of millions of job losses as well as a historic contraction in second quarter annualised GDP.
The US$2.2 trillion Cares Act stimulus package gave extra money to the unemployed and loans and grants to small businesses, however those provisions expired months ago.