Second stimulus checks: Pelosi optimistic sides can agree on new aid package

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WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 24: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly press conference at the Capitol on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Pelosi paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying the late justice will be the first woman as well as the first Jewish person to lay in state.tomorrow. (Photo by Liz Lynch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism Sunday that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin can reach a deal on a stimulus package that many expect to include another round of $1,200 direct payments to most Americans.

“I trust Secretary Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution, and I believe we come to an agreement,” Pelosi said during CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

While Pelosi has discussed passing a $2.4 trillion package in the House, she said Democrats would prefer to reach a bipartisan agreement than approve a bill that’s likely to get killed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“I’d rather have a deal that puts money in people’s pockets than to have a rhetorical argument. What we will be putting forth is a proffer to say, now let us negotiate within a time frame and a dollar amount to get the job done,” Pelosi added.

Pelosi has been fighting for a package of at least $2 trillion arguing it needs to include $600 per week in unemployment insurance and money for state and local governments.

“The public is going to have to see why $2.2, or now $2.4, perhaps, is necessary,” Pelosi said during the interview.

Late last week, Mnuchin confirmed he and Pelosi revived talks and are trying to work through a bill.

“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the coronavirus relief and we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” Mnuchin said in a Senate Banking Committee.

The House passed a $3.4 trillion rescue measure in May but Republicans dismissed the package as bloated and unrealistic. Even as Democrats cut their ambitions back by $1 trillion or so, Senate Republicans have focused on a much smaller rescue package in the $650 billion to $1 trillion range.

Many feel the timing to reach an agreement isn’t possible at the height of the presidential campaign and a heated battle over filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the High Court.

One group that found middle ground was the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. Last week, the group of Democrats and Republicans unveiled a $1.5 trillion bill that would provide, among other things, direct stimulus checks to Americans.

When asked about the $500 billion proposed for state aid as part of the “March to Common Ground” stimulus framework presented by the problem solvers group, Trump said he supported “something like that.”

“I like the larger amount,” Trump said. “Some of the Republicans disagree but I think I can convince them to go along with that, I like the larger number. I want to see people get money, it wasn’t their fault that this happened.”

Trump has previously supported a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans, which is included in the $316 billion budget for direct assistance included in the problem solver bill.

However, Democratic leadership rejected the package saying it didn’t do enough. Instead, Democrats chose to begin drawing up a larger bill in the event they can’t find common ground with Mnuchin and GOP negotiators.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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