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Pelosi on White House coronavirus talks: 'One step forward, two steps back'

McConnell faces uphill battle to convince GOP senators to approve stimulus deal: Gasparino

Sources tell FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino many Republican senators worry about the deficit while some past stimulus money hasn’t been spent.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday dismissed the White House's latest $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer as "insufficient" and said the Trump administration's proposal on state and local aid, unemployment benefits and measures to fight the virus still falls short. 

"This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back," Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues Saturday.

But in a sign of hope Pelosi said she's still communicating with the White House on finding a breakthrough deal to help American workers and businesses still reeling from the pandemic.

"At this point, we still have disagreement on many priorities, and Democrats are awaiting language from the Administration on several provisions as the negotiations on the overall funding amount continue," Pelosi wrote.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday made the biggest offer yet to Pelosi, at between $1.8 and $1.9 trillion, according to Tyler Goodspeed, acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

It included a reload of the Paycheck Protection Program, an employee retention tax credit, a second round of direct stimulus payments, and support for the airlines and school reopenings, Goodspeed told Fox Business Friday. 

It marks an increase from the $1.6 trillion the administration had previously proposed.

"We think that this was a very solid offer, and it's up to the speaker to be reasonable," Goodspeed said. 

Pelosi outlined in her letter the faults with the White House's latest offer:

  • “absence of any response on a strategic plan to crush the virus”
  • funding for state and local governments “remains sadly inadequate”
  • $200 billion less than what Democrats want for expanded unemployment benefits
  • the inclusion of coronavirus lawsuit liability protections for businesses and not including stronger new worker safety standards 
  • plan doesn’t include additional refundable tax credits: Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Child Dependent Care Tax Credit
  • a $25 billion offer on child case assistance when Democrats want $57 billion 

"At this point, the Trump proposal is insufficient in meeting families’ needs, in stark contrast to the Heroes Act, which secured tens of billions for direct relief and refundable credits," Pelosi wrote in reference to the $2.2 trillion legislation the House passed.


For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on additional stimulus. Negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.

But that aid is beginning to expire, and lifelines that propped up the economy in the early weeks of the pandemic — like the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a one-time $1,200 stimulus check and sweetened unemployment benefits — lapsed weeks ago.


Although Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that another bill is necessary to aid the economy's recovery, they sharply disagree over the size and scope of it. House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion aid package last week, and the Trump administration countered with a $1.6 trillion plan. Pelosi rejected that as "inadequate" before the White House came back with the higher offer.

Talks appeared to hit a dead end on Tuesday when Trump tweeted that he had instructed Republicans to halt negotiations until after the election, jolting Wall Street and sending stocks tumbling. But he swiftly reversed course, initially calling for piecemeal legislation, then renewing a push for a broader deal.

"The president wants to do a deal," Kudlow said during an interview with FOX Business' Stuart Varney.

Any bill still needs to get through the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate, where some Republicans have expressed concern about another massive spending initiative amid the nation's ballooning deficit, which is projected to hit a record-shattering $3.3 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.


Fox Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report. 

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Mitch McConnell Whacks White House Over Lax Coronavirus Protocols

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested on Thursday that the White House could do a better job of taking precautions against the coronavirus, following a possible superspreader event that may have led to the infections of President Donald Trump, the first lady, several Republican senators and dozens of White House aides last month.

McConnell, who is notoriously loath to criticize Trump or break with him in any way, said he’s personally avoided visiting the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue because of the White House’s lax virus protocols.

“I actually haven’t been to the White House since August the 6th because my impression was their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” the 78-year-old majority leader said at an event in Kentucky.

“If any of you have been around me since May the 1st, I’ve said, ‘Wear your mask. Practice social distancing.’ … Now, you’ve heard of other places that have had a different view, and they are, you know, paying the price for it,” he added at another event.

In sharp contrast to Trump, McConnell has placed a big emphasis on mask-wearing and social distancing in the Senate and at public events in his home state, touting those steps as the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable groups.

The recent outbreak that has infected at least 30 White House staffers and other GOP officials has directly threatened McConnell’s majority in the Senate, which is racing to confirm a conservative Supreme Court justice before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Three Republican senators, including two Judiciary Committee members, have announced testing positive for the virus following the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony. Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) are all currently quarantining. If any more GOP senators contract the virus, it could derail the confirmation process and postpone a final vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior this week may also threaten the reelection bids of GOP incumbents facing tough fights, which could hand Democrats control of the Senate.

The president is likely still contagious and on steroids since leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center earlier this week. He took off his mask prior to walking into the White House on Monday and actually worked out of the Oval Office on Wednesday, possibly putting other White House staff at risk.

On Thursday, Trump posted to Twitter a video message addressing senior citizens, a group that polls have shown him losing by large margins to Democratic rival Joe Biden.

“I’m a senior. I know you don’t know that. Nobody knows that. Maybe you don’t have to tell ‘em, but I’m a senior,” Trump said in the video. “You’re not vulnerable, but they like to say ‘the vulnerable,’ but you’re the least vulnerable. But, for this one thing, you are vulnerable. So am I.”

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White House prepping Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court confirmation hearing

Amy Coney Barrett meets with GOP senators

Democratic lawmakers boycott meetings with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett; Mark Meredith reports.

The White House Counsel’s Office is prepping Judge Amy Coney Barrett for her Senate confirmation hearings, where they anticipate the Supreme Court nominee will be questioned about a range of issues, including her nomination event in the Rose Garden which lead to President Trump and members of his inner circle testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

A senior administration official told Fox News that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and “constitutional experts” within the White House Counsel’s Office are preparing Barrett for the confirmation hearings, which are slated to begin Monday, Oct. 12 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and run through Thursday, Oct. 15.

“Barrett will be an outstanding witness and will be confirmed,” the official told Fox News.

The official told Fox News that Cipollone and the team are prepping Barrett for questions on a range of issues — including the Sept. 26 nominating event in the Rose Garden.

After the event, the president, first lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House adviser Hope Hicks, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, former adviser Kellyanne Conway, director of Oval Office operations David Luna, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, and Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie all tested positive for COVID-19.

The official told Fox News that they could not preview how Barrett would respond to that line of questioning, but defended the event, saying it was “held outdoors” and “there was a lot of testing done beforehand.”

“We have to reopen our country,” the official said. “We take precautions but we have to reopen our country, we have to continue our duties, and we had to nominate this outstanding judge to the Supreme Court.”

A White House aide told Fox News that Cipollone “knows what she’ll be questioned on.”

“He’ll know ways to navigate those without telegraphing too much to get through the confirmation,” the aide said.

Meanwhile, the official said the White House anticipates Barrett will be questioned on issues and cases involving abortion, specifically Roe v. Wade, and the Obamacare case that is pending before the high court.

“They are going to try a million different ways to get her to discuss cases that may come before her,” the official said. “But, with the Ginsburg rule, she won’t be doing that.”

Ginsburg, during her confirmation hearings in 1993, chose not to answer questions that may hint at how she would rule on a future case. The practice has been informally named the Ginsburg rule.

The official added: “She’s committed to being a fair-minded judge, who will set aside her personal opinions.”

Meanwhile, senior officials told Fox News that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been tasked with prepping Barrett and shepherding her through the Senate.

“He knows exactly the senators we’ll need to win over, and the issues that matter to them,” one senior White House official told Fox News. “He knows which senators to target that could bring over votes for her, and will help her to remain independent and speak to her own judicial record to win those key votes. He’s a Capitol Hill strategist.”

“Between Pat’s legal mind and Meadows’ Hill mind, we feel we have the strongest team in place to get through this,” another White House official told Fox News.

“We understand we’re operating on an abbreviated timeline, but we’re embracing that,” the official told Fox News.

The president officially announced Barrett as his pick to fill the vacancy left by late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 26. An Oct. 12 start, 16 days from her official nomination, would be in line with that “abbreviated timeline.”

There were 48 days between the nomination of Gorsuch and his confirmation hearing in 2017 and 57 days between the nomination of Kavanaugh and his hearing.


Senate Democrats are likely to seek to impede the confirmation as much as possible. They have objected to a confirmation so close to the election, citing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.

McConnell, R-Ky., has said that the present situation is different because the White House and the Senate are not held by opposing parties.

Republicans, though, appear to have the votes to move forward and confirm Barrett. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate and can therefore afford three defections if no Democrat votes for the nominee. In that instance, Vice President Mike Pence would be called in to break a tie.

So far, only Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have indicated they oppose moving forward with a confirmation before the election. Murkowski has since suggested she still may vote for the nominee.


Meanwhile, as for the Senate hearing, a committee aide told Fox News on Monday that staff is working with the Architect of the Capitol, Office of the Attending Physician, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the Capitol Police, and the Rules Committee to ensure the nomination hearing for Judge Barrett is conducted safely and in accordance with public health recommendations.

Committee staff is making sure that there are PPE and sanitary stations, and there will be strict limits on people allowed into the hearing room among other precautions.

The aide also said that the committee will be meeting in a larger hearing room, in order to comply with the CDC’s and OAP’s recommendation of social distancing.

The aide also noted that "members have the option of appearing and questioning the witness in person or remotely," and said that "each senator makes their own determination." Members will have the option to participate virtually, as they have for all other recent Judiciary Committee hearings, the aide said.

The aide, though, said that Graham will appear in person.

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Lincoln Project Trolls Trump’s Balcony Stunt With Singalong ‘Evita’ Parody

President Donald Trump marked his return to the White House on Monday from hospitalization for the coronavirus with a photo-op at the Truman Balcony ― a scene his critics likened to the iconic moment from the musical “Evita.”

Now his critics on the right turned that comparison into a song parody. 

The Lincoln Project ― a group of never-Trump Republicans ― released “Covita,” a parody based on the musical’s showstopper: 

The Lincoln Project did not say who sang the track. Asked on Twitter, co-founder Rick Wilson responded: “I’ll never tell.” 

Patti LaPone, who originated the role on Broadway and won a Tony as Eva Peron, weighed in on Trump’s balcony appearance a day earlier on social media. 

“I still have the lung power and I wore less makeup,” she wrote on Twitter. “This revival is closing November 3rd.”

The “Covita” video was one of several released by The Lincoln Project on Tuesday. The group also dropped a much more somber video on the toll of the infection amid Trump’s continuing efforts to downplay it:

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White House defends Trump, says he is 'projecting an image of strength' amid battle with coronavirus

White House touts Trump’s leadership on coronavirus amid criticism

White House director of communications Alyssa Farah reacts on ‘America’s Newsroom’

The White House is defending President Trump as he fights coronavirus, saying that he is “projecting an image of strength” and wants Americans to get back to “normal life safely.”

The president returned to the White House on Monday evening after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and is continuing to receive treatment for COVID-19.

Upon arriving at the White House from Marine One on Monday evening, the president walked out onto the Truman Balcony overlooking the South Lawn, removed his face mask, and saluted military officers as Marine One departed the grounds. Critics took swings at the president, claiming the move was irresponsible.

“At times like this, in these moments, it is highly important for the commander in chief to express confidence to our domestic population, and it is very important, to our allies and adversaries,” White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah said on “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday, adding that the president is “projecting an image of strength.”

Farah also addressed the president removing his mask, despite a White House photographer being on the balcony with him.

“This was a brief interaction,” she said. “Our photographers, we know, when we work with the president, wear your mask and keep your distance.”

“The world and the American people needed to see their president strong and leading,” Farah said.

Farah added that the president’s focus is “working to defeat” COVID-19, while also making sure therapeutics and potential vaccines reach the American public.

“On this date, you are the most likely to survive and get treatment for the coronavirus because of this president’s leadership,” Farah said.

“The president’s message is clear: while taking safe mitigation practices, Americans need to get back to ordinary life,” Farah added, saying “businesses are closing and people cannot make ends meet.”


“The president wants us to get through coronavirus, to be safe and be smart, so we can get back to normal life,” she said. “His point is, we can’t do this forever. We can’t keep the nation locked down.”

Meanwhile, Farah was asked about a report published Tuesday by the Associated Press, which suggested White House staff are angered by the outbreak of coronavirus within the White House.

The president, last Friday, just before 1 a.m., announced that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, after White House adviser Hope Hicks also tested positive. Since then, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and director of Oval Office Operations David Luna have also tested positive.

Farah pushed back on the report, saying that she doesn’t “give much credence to anonymous sources.”

“We feel comfortable working here, we are taking precautions in the West Wing, we need to be washing our hands, wearing masks when we can’t socially distance,” Farah said. “That is not representative of the vibe in the White House … If anything, the team has been highly inspired by the president’s strong leadership.”

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White House releases new photo of Trump from Walter Reed

How does Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis impact the 2020 election?

Fox News contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson joins ‘The Next Revolution’ to discuss how President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and last week’s debate impact the 2020 election.

The White House on Sunday released a new photograph of President Trump working out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., while undergoing treatment for COVID-19.

The photo was taken after the president fielded calls from Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. The caption said Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, was also in the room at the time.


Trump has been trying to project an image of strength during his brief stay at the hospital but has faced a few health scares in recent days, including two instances where his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly.  Trump was given a dose of the steroid dexamethasone in response.

Meadows told Fox News' "Justice with Judge Jeanine" Saturday night that the president was experiencing symptoms that had his staff "real concerned" on Friday, including fever and low blood oxygen level. But he appears to be recovering.

A normal blood oxygen reading is between 95 and 100. Dr. Sean Conley, who is Trump’s personal physician, said the president had a “high fever” and a blood oxygen level below 94% on Friday and during “another episode” on Saturday.

Oct. 4: President Donald J. Trump participates in a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

His medical team said they’ve been encouraged by the president’s energy and test results and said he might be able to be discharged from the hospital on Monday.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement "that appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”

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Media outlets suggest White House 'can't be trusted' to be truthful about Trump's health

Dr. Marty Makary says President Trump going to Walter Reed Medical Center is ‘mostly precautionary’

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Marty Makary weighs in on President Trump’s health condition and being sent to the Walter Reed Medical Hospital on ‘The Story.’

Several mainstream media outlets expressed skepticism of White House statements about President Trump's health Friday following the announcement that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan led the charge following the president's diagnosis, writing a column with the headline, "Journalists, beware: This White House can’t be trusted to be truthful about Trump’s health."

"With President Trump apparently struck by covid-19 [sic] a month before a critical election and after 200,000 American deaths from the disease, what we really need right now is an entirely credible, fact-based voice from the White House," Sullivan began, adding, "Good luck with that. With the exception of Anthony S. Fauci, and maybe a few other top medical experts, there isn’t a trusted truth-teller in sight."

Sullivan then outlined what she called a "culture of lies" in the Trump administration, singling out former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and current Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.


"Once upon a time, when a president or his press secretary made a statement on a crucially important matter, it was simply considered news. And reported as such," Sullivan continued. "The time for that is long past. The stakes are higher than ever, and the demand for proof should be, too. Otherwise, Americans will reasonably come to an unavoidable conclusion: If the statement is from the president’s tweet, or from the press secretary’s mouth, there’s no reason to think it’s true."

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper determined that any public statements from the White House are "pretty much meaningless," claiming "they have no idea" how long President Trump will actually be staying at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Cooper's colleague Jim Acosta seemed to agree, calling the White House's rhetoric "wishful thinking."

During an appearance on "The View" Friday morning, ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl expressed heavy skepticism while reporting on President Trump's health.

"Mark Meadows did acknowledge that the president is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, not just a positive test, but he has symptoms," Karl said. "He said those are mild symptoms. Of course, there's a real question of exactly what you can believe in terms of how they are characterizing this."


Responding to co-host Sunny Hostin's concerns that the president will "downplay" his own health problems, Karl replied: "The sad truth is we really can't trust at face value what comes out of the White House on this … There has been so much misinformation that has gone out, you know, about the virus, about the pandemic, about things like voter suppression, it's really hard to know what to believe."

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams similarly chided the White House.

"Here we are in 2020 and, as hard as it is to believe … we have reason to doubt the medical statements that come out of the White House," Williams said before citing former White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson's "exuberant medical briefing" and the president's unexplained past trips to Walter Reed Medical Center.

"So this is what happens when there’s a chipping away of institutions, of the truth and matters of public record that we’ve become used to with past presidents… [Walter Reed] is where we treat our presidents and we’re used to forthright briefings on our presidents and I think we have cause to view these statements thus far with skepticism."

Politico chief political correspondent Tim Alberta urged that a doctor hold a press conference "ASAP" to discuss the president's health, writing, "If this was happening in another country, we'd be highly skeptical of what the government was telling us without hearing from the head of state himself/herself."

"It is absolutely times like these when the White House needs the credibility it squandered time and again on meaningless stuff," Alberta explained. "How do we know Trump has 'mild symptoms'? How can they expect the public to believe this was done 'out of an abundance of caution'?"

Vox ran the headline: "The future of the country hinges on Trump’s health — and we can’t trust he’s telling the truth."

The world found out about Trump's coronavirus diagnosis directly from the president himself on Twitter, but many journalists pointed out that the positive test result from top White House aide Hope Hicks was first reported by Bloomberg through anonymous leaks.


"Unclear when we would have learned about any of this… [Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs] first reported it not the White House," Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted.

"@JenniferJJacobs deserves a BIG hat tip here … She broke Hope Hicks had covid. It was not disclosed by the W.H.," Politico correspondent Anna Palmer similarly tweeted.

However, some journalists are also floating conspiracy theories of their own. Hours before Trump went to Walter Reed, MSNBC host Joy Reid suggested that he was fabricating his coronavirus diagnosis.


"Here’s how wrecked Trump’s credibility is at this point," Reid tweeted. "I’ve got a cellphone full of texts from people who aren’t sure whether to believe Trump actually has covid. 'He lies so much,' one friend just texted. 'Is he just doing this to get out of the debates?' others are texting."

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Three White House reporters test positive for coronavirus

President Trump touches down at Walter Reed after COVID diagnosis

Kristen Fisher sets the scene outside Walter Reed Medical Center on ‘Special Report’

The coronavirus outbreak at the White House has spread to the ranks of the press.

Hours after news that President Trump and first lady Melania Trump announced they tested positive for COVID-19, the White House Correspondents' Association confirmed that three journalists also tested positive Friday and contact tracing is underway.

"Given these positive cases, the president’s diagnosis and positive cases among other members of the White House staff, a number of White House journalists are self-isolating pending diagnostic testing," WHCA President Zeke Miller said in a memo to members.


White House journalists work in cramped quarters on the first floor and basement of the executive mansion and a small group of reporters, known as the pool, accompanies the president to events and will travel with him abroad Air Force One.

The three journalists were not identified but all were covering the president this weekend. One attended a White House briefing Sunday, another traveled with Trump for his Saturday trip to Pennsylvania and a third attended events with the president on both Saturday and Sunday.

The journalists association is encouraging the White House reporters to get tested, wear a mask at all times, and to avoid working out of the White House if they are not assigned to the pool or have an enclosed workspace.

"We must lower our exposure to possible further infections," Miller wrote.

Trump was transported to Walter Reed Medical Center Friday where he's expected to stay for a few days as he fights the virus.

“I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out,” Trump said in a video message Friday thanking the country for support. “The first lady is doing very well.”


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Pelosi, Mnuchin Still Far Apart on Virus Stimulus Deal

In this article

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told top Democrats Thursday that she’s skeptical of getting a deal for a new economic stimulus in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to two House Democratic officials.

Pelosi spoke with her leadership team on a conference call before the next scheduled round of talks with Mnuchin. The two met for about 90 minutes Wednesday without coming to an agreement, but Mnuchin said progress was made.

At a news conference after the call, Pelosi said the two sides are still far apart on the total amount of stimulus and how it would be apportioned. Many of the same sticking points that have resulted in the current stalemate, including aid to state and local government, remain.

“We’re hopeful we can reach agreement because the needs of the American people are so great,” Pelosi said. “But there has to be a recognition it takes money to do that.”

Both sides face increased pressure to act as more companies announce job cuts, including airlines that had received help under earlier rounds of federal support, and there is little time to act before the Nov. 3 election.

The S&P 500 Index pared its advance by more than half after Pelosi’s skepticism was reported. U.S. stock markets have been whipsawed this week by speculation over whether a stimulus deal can be reached.

House Democrats proposed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that Pelosi described as a “proffer” in negotiations with the White House. Republican congressional leaders have rejected it.

Mnuchin said President Donald Trump instructed his negotiators “to come up significantly” from the initial GOP proposal of a $1 trillion pandemic relief plan.

They offered Pelosi a maximum of $1.6 trillion, some of which is covered by unused small business relief funds, according to people familiar with the proposal. That would include $400 a week in additional unemployment insurance, less than the $600 the Democrats want, the people said, but more than the $300 the White House put forward earlier. The package would also provide $250 billion in assistance to state and local governments, $100 billion more than a previous White House offer, but not as much as Democrats say is needed.

“I think that the president made a very good and generous offer that addresses most if not all — the vast majority of issues,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters Wednesday night. “And yet we’re still apart on money and the priorities for that allocation. Discussions will continue.”

Meadows said the Trump administration’s counterproposal was “certainly above the $1.5 trillion that has been articulated to date,” but that “if it starts with a two, there’s going to be a real problem.”

House Democrats are still planning a vote on their $2.2 trillion proposal. It’s less than the $3.4 trillion bill the House passed in May, but still more than Republicans have said they could accept. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that it was rife with “poison pills” that have nothing to do with pandemic relief.

The House is scheduled to leave Washington at the end of this week, though members will be on call to return if there is a stimulus vote. Most senators may leave after next week, with the exception of a late-October vote on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also could be called back if a deal is reached.

Officials in both parties have privately questioned whether the differences could be bridged. The lack of progress in Wednesday’s talks dimmed optimism in financial markets about a stimulus deal, as stocks closed well off their highs of the session.

Although Trump and his aides have continued to express confidence that the economy is recovering, the pandemic continues to reverberate for companies and workers. Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it’s slashing 28,000 workers in its slumping U.S. resort business. American Airlines Group Inc. said Wednesday night that it would begin to furlough 19,000 employees on Thursday, while United Airlines Holdings Inc. is planning to cut more than 13,000.

“The biggest concern that I have right now is that we just learned that 19,000 people on American Airlines, there’s going to be another furlough. There’s probably other airlines in the mix,” Meadows said aboard Air Force One on Wednesday night.

Private economists have increasingly abandoned predictions for a stimulus deal before the election. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recently cut their forecasts for growth next quarter as a consequence.

“While there is a chance a deal could be reached in the next day or so, the odds still seem stacked against additional pre-election fiscal stimulus,” Goldman analysts including Alec Phillips wrote in a note Wednesday. “The soft deadline for a pre-election deal is tomorrow.”

Clash Over State, Local Aid

A key point of disagreement has been the Democrats’ push for large-scale aid to local and state governments. Their plan released Monday has $436 billion for one year of assistance — less than a previous demand for $915 billion, which triggered scorn from Trump administration officials who called it a bailout for poorly run states.

The Democratic plan includes new aid for airlines, restaurants and small businesses that wasn’t in the original House package but which both sides want as part of any package. It also has more than double the amount they originally proposed for schools.

The bill would provide another round of $1,200 direct relief payments to individuals and $500 per dependent — less than the $1,200 for dependents Democrats originally proposed.

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