Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won’t support a standalone bill to offer additional funding for airlines without a guarantee from the Trump administration that a larger coronavirus relief bill would also be considered, days after President Trump abruptly shut down negotiations between White House officials and Congress.
“There is no standalone bill without a bigger bill,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. She said she conveyed this message to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a phone call on Wednesday evening. Mnuchin has been leading the White House negotiations with congressional Democrats on coronavirus economic relief legislation.
The president sent a series of tweets on Tuesday announcing he had “instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election.” He accused Pelosi of “not negotiating in good faith” after she rejected a $1.6 trillion proposal from the White House.
Later on the same day, Mr. Trump called on Congress pass funding to support the airline industry and the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as provide stimulus funds in standalone bills.
The speaker slammed the president for saying that he did not want to work on relief legislation until after the election, and said the president “walked away from our children” when he walked away from negotiations.
“The president wants to wait until he wins the election,” she said. “Well, that might be an eternity, but if he wants to wait until after the election, that would be unfortunate.”
Pelosi also suggested that Mr. Trump’s tweets on Tuesday may have caught Mnuchin off guard.
“When the president did his tweet, that one that said he was walking away, I think he surprised a lot of people,” Pelosi said. She later added, “I almost wonder if Steve Mnuchin knew the president was going to do that.”
However, Pelosi said she was “hopeful” that talks with Mnuchin would continue.
“We told the White House we’re at the table,” she said, “We want to continue the conversation.”
The House last week passed a $2.4 trillion relief bill that would restore a popular benefit providing an additional $600 per week on top of unemployment benefits, deliver another round of direct payments and provide funding for schools and state and local jurisdiction. The legislation was a slimmed-down version of a $3.4 trillion bill the House initially passed in May.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated the Senate would be unwilling to consider any legislation that cost more than $2 trillion, deriding the House bill’s price tag as “outlandish” and “too high.”