White House rejects Democrats’ offer for $2 trillion stimulus price tag


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced at a news conference on Friday that they had offered to “go down a trillion” from their top-line number of $3.4 trillion, if Republicans would go up $1 trillion from their initial offer of $1 trillion.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters shortly afterward that the request for GOP negotiators to increase their offer by $1 trillion, putting the top-line number at around $2 trillion, is “a non-starter.”

Asked by a reporter about Pelosi’s request and if it is in the cards, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “I don’t think so.”

“I don’t know that that’s a reduction, as much as she is just changing the time frames. I don’t think she’s come off with her number, other than just made a shorter time,” Meadows added.

Democrats and administration negotiators are meeting Friday, the day they were aiming to have a top-line agreement — yet it’s doubtful there will be a breakthrough.

Pelosi and Schumer suggested on Friday that they would not be open to a number lower than $2 trillion, arguing that such a plan would fail to win over a sufficient number of Democrats in both chambers.

“The House doesn’t have the votes to go south of $2 trillion, the Senate Democrats can’t go south of 2 trillion, so that’s what compromise is all about,” Schumer said. “Because there are 20 Republicans who don’t want to vote anything that doesn’t mean the whole thing should shift in their direction. You have to meet in the middle.”

Meanwhile, Senate GOP leaders do not think that anything above $2 trillion could pass the Senate.

On a private call with GOP senators earlier in the day on Friday, Mnuchin and Meadows said they believed that the Democrats’ demand for nearly $1 trillion for state and local government is the biggest sticking point over a deal, multiple sources told CNN.

They also argued Democrats have not moved off their positions or proposed things that the GOP could accept. For instance, the officials said, Democrats are pushing for permanent student loan forgiveness as part of the deal.

The divergence between the two sides on a top-line number has become a major obstacle in the talks along with other disagreements about a variety of policy issues that would make up an overall deal.

Democrats have argued that passing anything less than a large-scale package is a non-starter and have pushed back against the idea of passing anything piecemeal, while Republicans have accused them of holding up progress toward passing a smaller package that would deal with issues of common ground.

As the odds of a deal look increasingly slim, finger pointing has intensified on both sides.

“My frustration is that we could’ve passed a very skinny deal that dealt with some of the most pressing issues,” Meadows said Thursday evening.

Schumer was critical of Meadows on Friday, calling him “non-compromising.”

“His positions are quite hardened and non-compromising, more-so than Mnuchin,” Schumer said of Meadows when asked if he is negotiating in good faith.

CNN’s Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.

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