WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that the White House and top Democrats in Congress may not be able to reach a deal on coronavirus aid, in the fifth day without talks on the stalemate blocking relief to tens of millions of Americans.
Mnuchin, who spent nearly two weeks trying to broker a deal in talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, also described the potential outcome of negotiations in terms of President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects.
“I can’t speculate. If the Democrats are willing to be reasonable, there’s a compromise. If the Democrats are focused on politics and don’t want to do anything that’s going to succeed for the president, there won’t be a deal,” he told Fox Business Network in an interview.
Schumer accused Republicans of refusing to meet in the middle, after Democrats offered to agree on midpoint between Senate Republicans $1 trillion offer and the $3 trillion measure passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in May. Mnuchin on Wednesday again dismissed the Democrats’ offer as “ridiculous.”
The impasse, which began last Friday when talks broke down without an agreement, has put U.S. investors on edge with more than 5.16 million COVID-19 cases in the United States.
The global pandemic has taken a particularly heavy toll on the United States, where it has killed more than 164,000 people, more than any other country.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and David Morgan; Editing by Toby Chopra and Chizu Nomiyama)