The White House on Friday accepted a new coronavirus stimulus offer to Democrats that is set to cost $ 1.8 trillion as the sides work to get a deal ahead of the 2020 election.
The plan would represent an increase over the $ 1.6 trillion the Trump administration had previously proposed. House Democrats passed a $ 2.2 trillion bill earlier this month, and the sides have been trying hard to find consensus between those numbers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for more than 30 minutes Friday afternoon, California Democrat spokesperson Drew Hammill said. Mnuchin proposed a proposal "that tried to address some of the Democrats' concerns," he added.
"Of particular concern is the lack of agreement on a strategic plan to fight the virus. We are still waiting for the administration to speak on these and other provisions as negotiations on the total funding amount continue," Hammill said in a tweet statement.
In a tweet before the meeting, Trump urged negotiators to "Go Big!" Trump later added more confusion to a chaotic week of discussions about aid.
"I would frankly want a bigger stimulus package than the Democrats or Republicans are offering," he told radio host Rush Limbaugh hours after apparently signing the offer, which was $ 400 billion less than the Democratic plan.
Congress is still facing several hurdles to draft and pass pandemic relief laws. Even if the White House and Democrats can reach an agreement on how much money to pour into a volatile healthcare system and economy, they will have to work out a bill that can get through the Republican-held Senate.
Earlier on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said another stimulus package was "unlikely in the next three weeks." He has focused on confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the election, and the Senate has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Monday.
To find a deal, Republicans and Democrats would need to quickly resolve a number of problems that seemed unsolvable during months of fruitless talks. Pelosi has insisted on releasing at least $ 436 billion for the financially troubled state and local governments, while Trump refused to send them more than the $ 150 billion they received earlier this year.
Democrats aim to reduce federal improved unemployment insurance to $ 600 a week by January. Mnuchin most recently offered an additional benefit of $ 400 per week.
Other points of contention are tax credits and food aid.
After Pelosi and Mnuchin had renewed talks on a deal earlier this week, Trump abruptly urged his administration to pull out of the discussions. After the stock market suffered a blow in response to the president's withdrawal, Trump reversed course and urged Congress to pass direct payments, small business loans and aid to airlines to cover payroll.
Congress has failed to send new aid for months as the U.S. healthcare system collapses in an angry outburst. The country reported more than 56,000 new infections on Thursday, the highest one-day mark in almost two months.
With millions of Americans remaining unemployed, the past few months have seen the lifeline to sustain them through economic shutdowns earlier this year. Additional unemployment insurance and a federal eviction moratorium ended, as did the window of opportunity to apply for loans for the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program. Trump signed executive orders temporarily granting additional unemployment benefits to some Americans and extending student loan support.
Unemployment claims remain stubbornly high in the US as hiring slows. Airlines and other major US corporations have laid off or laid off tens of thousands of workers.
This week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to add more fiscal stimulus, saying it "could lead to a poor recovery and create unnecessary trouble for households and businesses". He said Congress had limited risk of "exaggerating" the relief.
– CNBC's Ylan Mui contributed to this report.
– Disclosure: Larry Kudlow is a former CNBC employee.