Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the Trump administration remains willing to work on a bipartisan agreement to help small businesses, the unemployed, children and schools afftected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Mnuchin at a hearing Tuesday accused Democratic leaders of holding up an agreement with hard-line positions. Democrats insist that dire economic conditions persist and say a larger relief package is needed.
"I believe a bipartisan agreement still should be reached and would provide substantial funds for schools, testing, vaccines, PPP for small businesses, continued enhanced unemployment benefits, child care, nutrition, agriculture, and the US Postal Service, along with liability protection for universities, schools and business," Mnuchin said.
The sides had largely agreed on providing many Americans with a second stimulus check of $1,200 before talks broke down in early August. Outside of the direct payments, the sides disagreed on a number of issues.
Mnuchin and top congressional Democrats have been in a monthslong stalemate over new relief legislation, with the two sides trillions of dollars apart. Lawmakers left Washington for the August recess without an agreement.
At the end of July, a $600 per week unemployment supplement expired. Also funding from the Paycheck Protection Program has long been depleted. The program was implemented to help employers make payroll during the pandemic.
The two sides are at odds over how much of unemployment should be supplemented by the federal government. There is also a debate on offering businesses liability protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits.