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MNI POLICY: Trump Says Parties Are Far Apart on Stimulus Talks

Fiscal Talks Set To Resume Wednesday Afternoon

WASHINGTON (MNI)

U.S. President Donald Trump said Republicans and Democrats have major differences over a coronavirus stimulus package and Congress may need to pass a short-term measure to prevent aid from running out.

"We ought to work on the evictions so that people don't get evicted, to work on the payments to the people and the rest of it," Trump said Wednesday in Washington. "We're so far apart we don't care."

Final payments of supplemental unemployment insurance that were included in the last stimulus package run out this week, and federal protections against evictions expired July 25.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Republicans and Democrats are "very far apart" and recommended lawmakers consider a short-term extension of the unemployment benefits and eviction protections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dismissed a short-term bill focused on smaller components, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants Congress to act on a comprehensive plan.

--TWO-TRILLION GAP

Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have represented Republicans in talks with Democrats and have shuttled between Senate Republicans and Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. They need to reconcile differences between the USD1 trillion stimulus plan Senate Republicans released Monday and the USD3.5 trillion package House Democrats passed in May.

Meadows told reporters Tuesday night after meeting with Pelosi and Schumer that "we still obviously have a lot of work to do on where we are," adding that he wouldn't characterize the negotiations "as getting closer."

Speaker Pelosi told reporters Tuesday night that negotiations have centered on "airing our differences" and "there is discovery in understanding where there might be opportunity or not."

Mnuchin and Meadows are scheduled to be back on Capitol Hill today.

There has been some common ground on issues like small business aid, stimulus checks for individuals and money to expand coronavirus testing and eventual vaccine distribution, with a main division around extending jobless payouts.

A Republican plan unveiled Monday would see an unemployment benefit bonus reduced from USD600 to USD200 per week for the next two months. Democrats support extending the weekly USD600 top-up through January, which McConnell called a "completely unhinged position."

MNI Washington Bureau | +1 202-371-2121 | evan.ryser@marketnews.com