House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the two top negotiators for a new round of coronavirus relief, are engaged in open warfare after weeks of private negotiations — casting new doubt on whether they will be able to reach agreement on stimulus legislation even after the November election.
On Thursday afternoon, Mnuchin slammed Pelosi in their highest-profile clash so far, saying the speaker is refusing to compromise to get much-needed aid to Americans.
“Your ALL OR NONE approach is hurting hard-working Americans who need help NOW,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter.
His remarks came after Pelosi sent her own letter to Mnuchin earlier Thursday that emphasized just how divided the two sides remain on the details of a potential stimulus bill, and hit the Trump administration for not accepting Democratic demands on key issues.
“The American people are suffering, and they want us to come to an agreement to save lives, livelihoods and the life of our American Democracy as soon as possible,” Pelosi wrote.
Mnuchin said he first learned of Pelosi’s letter from media reports Thursday morning, and he “can unfortunately only conclude that it is a political stunt.”
What this means for the bill: The confrontation between the two is inauspicious for the odds of a new stimulus bill. When everyone else had essentially given up on the idea of another round of coronavirus relief over the summer, Pelosi and Mnuchin continued to have phone calls to negotiate and work towards a deal.
With Democratic leaders standing firmly behind their call for a massive aid package and Republican lawmakers instead advocating for a much smaller, targeted bill, an agreement never really appeared imminent.
But Pelosi and Mnuchin continued to insist progress was being made — and sometimes, it was. Both had previously expressed hope that a deal could be finalized before Election Day, but talks have faltered in recent days.
At a news conference earlier in the day, Pelosi said the talks were not over. She indicated she is eyeing the congressional lame duck session after the election as an opportunity for lawmakers to approve new aid.