U.S. treasury secretary signals comprehensive COVID-19 relief deal unlikely before election

  • World
  • Thursday, 15 Oct 2020

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- It would be difficult for the White House and Democrats to reach a deal on a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package before the presidential election in November, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.

"I'd say at this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are," Mnuchin said during a virtual conference hosted by the Milken Institute, noting the two sides are still far apart on certain issues.

Asked whether Democrats are unwilling to make a deal to give President Donald Trump a win before the election, Mnuchin said: "I think that definitely is part of the reality. That's definitely an issue."

"But the president is very focused on when he wins we will need to do more. So that's part of the reason to continue to work on this. The clock will not stop," he said.

Mnuchin's remarks came after an hour-long phone discussion he had earlier Wednesday morning with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"In response to proposals sent over the weekend, the two spent time seeking clarification on language, which was productive," Drew Hammill, spokesman and deputy chief of staff for the House speaker, said on Twitter.

"One major area of disagreement continues to be that the White House lacks an understanding of the need for a national strategic testing plan," Hammill said, adding staff will continue to exchange paper and the two principals will speak again on Thursday.

In a letter to Democratic colleagues on Tuesday, Pelosi said the White House's latest relief proposal "falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand."

"This weekend, the Administration issued a proposal that amounted to one step forward, two steps back. In fact, in some instances, it makes matters worse," Pelosi wrote.

"I remain hopeful that the White House will finally join us to recognize the needs of the American people, and take action to address the health and economic crisis in their lives," she added.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has recently urged policymakers to provide more fiscal relief to households and businesses hurt by the pandemic, warning a prolonged slowing economic recovery could trigger typical recessionary dynamics.

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