Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would speak again with House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday about coronavirus stimuli and was "hopeful" about the prospect of a deal.
"I say we're going to try hard one more time to make this happen, and I think we hope we can achieve something," he said during the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. "I think there is a reasonable compromise here."
The finance minister added that he wanted to find "an understanding" with Pelosi for a comprehensive aid package by Thursday. Mnuchin said an offer he plans to make to the speaker – an antipole to the $ 2.2 trillion bailout bill the House could vote on this week – the House Problem's bipartisan caucus proposal earlier this month Solvers of around $ 1.5 trillion will be similar.
Pelosi previously rejected this plan. The legislation included $ 450 a week in increased unemployment benefits during an eight-week transition period, another round of $ 1,200 direct payments, and more small business loan financing programs.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at the Alpha 2020 Conference on September 30, 2020.
The Trump administration and Democratic leaders have failed to reach consensus on what to include in a fifth coronavirus aid package as the outbreak ravages the lives and livelihoods of Americans. Before Mnuchin and Pelosi resumed their talks in the past few days, doubts had grown about Congress's ability to provide fresh aid ahead of the November 3 elections.
Both the finance minister and the house spokesman were more optimistic about progress on Wednesday than in the past few weeks. In an MSNBC interview, Pelosi also said she was "hopeful" about the potential for a deal.
"We'll see what they bring back today and how our negotiations go next," she said.
Mnuchin said the sides had reached consensus on several key issues. These include small business loans, school funding, direct payments to individuals, airline grants, and tax credits for employee retention.
He said the White House would continue to push for corporate and school liability protection – a provision that the Democrats had previously spoken out against. While Mnuchin added that the Trump administration is backing some new relief for state and local governments, it's unclear whether their offer will appease Democrats who proposed more than $ 400 billion in aid over a year.
Of course, any deal that the White House and Democrats reach must also come through the Republican-held Senate. When GOP lawmakers grew tired of spending trillions to support the federal response to the pandemic, the Senate attempted to pass a roughly $ 500 billion relief plan earlier this month.
Democrats blocked it and called it inadequate.
Mnuchin said he and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday to keep them updated on the talks.
"Let's see if we can compromise with the speaker, what works, and then we will continue to work with both sides on the exact language and guidelines," said Mnuchin.
The pandemic continues to devastate the United States, which reports tens of thousands of new cases on average each day. While the labor market has rebounded since a wave of virus-related layoffs in the spring, the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 8.4% in August as industries like restaurants, travel, and entertainment collapse under restraints to help the outbreak spread slow it down.