New White House offer adds $600 checks to COVID-19 relief
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration dove back into Capitol Hill's confusing COVID-19 negotiations on Tuesday, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans — but eliminate a $300 per week employment benefit favored by a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the offer to Pelosi late Tuesday afternoon, he said in a statement. He offered few details, though House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it proposes the $600 direct payment for individuals and $1,200 for couples, which is half the payment delivered by the March pandemic relief bill.
Mnuchin reached out to Pelosi after a call with top congressional GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who remains at odds with Democratic leaders over COVID-19 relief. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded to Mnuchin's entreaty with a statement that said they would prefer to let a bipartisan group take the lead.
The bipartisan group, led by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, among others, is seeking to rally lawmakers in both parties behind a $908 billion framework that includes a $300-per-week pandemic jobless benefit and $160 billion for states and local governments. It is more generous than a GOP plan that’s been filibustered twice already but far smaller than a wish list assembled by House Democrats.
McConnell had earlier proposed shelving a top Democratic priority — aid to state and local governments — in exchange for dropping his own pet provision, a shield against lawsuits for COVID-related negligence. Democrats angrily rejected the idea, saying McConnell was undermining the efforts of a bipartisan group of Senate...