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House Democrats Prepare Vote on COVID-19 Relief as Negotiations With White House Continue

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin considers the approximately $1.5 trillion counteroffer to House Democrats’ updated HEROES Act to be “one last serious try” to reach compromise on new round of COVID-19 relief
  • Mnuchin has expressed optimism that differences can be resolved this week after months of impasse
  • House Democrats preparing to vote on HEROES Act as early as this afternoon if parties remain too far apart on a deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is optimistic that the White House can strike a deal with Democratic leaders on a new round of COVID-19 relief after several months of stalemate, but also warned that talks are unlikely to resume if they collapse. Meanwhile, House Democrats are preparing to move forward with a vote on their updated HEROES Act as early as this afternoon if the parties remain too far apart on a deal.

Mnuchin is expected to make a counteroffer of about $1.5 trillion, with provisions to increase aid to $2 trillion if economic difficulties related to the pandemic persist. Speaking on CNBC, he said the counteroffer will include additional economic aid to taxpayers, relief for airlines and emergency workers, and liability protections for schools and businesses. The dollar amount aligns closely with a bipartisan proposal crafted by the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus.

Democrats and Republicans have sparred for months on the size and scope of a new COVID-19 relief bill. There is broad consensus on certain points, such as a new round of stimulus checks and further enhanced unemployment benefits, though Republicans have largely opposed Democratic efforts to get billions of dollars in aid for state and local governments while Democrats have been cool to Republican attempts to win liability protections for schools and businesses.

Mnuchin said he believes the disagreements on these issues can be resolved in a single bill. The top line may raise some concerns, however, as some Republican senators have been unwilling to increase the deficit with another large bill following the passage of the CARES Act earlier this year.

Members of Congress, particularly those facing close races in November, are under increasing pressure to deliver a bill as the stalemate persists and large-scale layoffs loom. Among other developments, American airlines are poised to cut more than 30,000 jobs and Disney announced 28,000 layoffs at its theme parks.

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