WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to apply pressure on Democrats on Monday to resume stalled talks on a coronavirus relief bill, after a weekend when Trump signed executive actions that circumvented Congress.

Trump wrote on Twitter that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “want to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it.”

It was unclear exactly what Trump was referring to, although Pelosi and Schumer both said on Sunday that they still favored a legislative solution if the administration would meet them in the middle and compromise.

In an interview on CNBC on Monday, however, Mnuchin argued that the administration already had compromised and Democrats were the ones who needed to compromise.

“We’re not the ones who are holding this up,” Mnuchin asserted.

Despite the rhetoric — and a claim by Trump on Sunday that the Democrats had called him — there has been no communication between the two sides since two weeks of fruitless talks collapsed on Friday, according to Democratic aides. Prospects for any further negotiations are unclear.

Donald Trump

President Trump signs an executive order during a news conference Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Trump on Saturday signed a series of executive actions aimed at restoring some enhanced unemployment benefits, deferring payroll taxes and student loan payments, and protecting renters. But the steps were criticized by state officials, businesses, economists and Democrats as confusing, unworkable, inadequate and potentially unconstitutional.

With millions still unemployed and coronavirus deaths rising, Democrats, many Republicans and the administration hoped to agree on a new relief bill that would send out new $1,200 checks to individual Americans, provide a new round of funding for small businesses, and allocate money for schools, testing and vaccine development, among other provisions.

But despite bipartisan agreement on many of these goals, the parties could not reach consensus on key issues, including the overall pricetag of the bill. Democrats started at $3.4 trillion but suggested they were willing to end up around $2 trillion; Republicans said $2 trillion was too high.

Democrats’ demand for nearly $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments also was a major roadblock. The Trump administration was unwilling to agree to more than $150 billion in additional aid to cities and states, after they already received $150 billion in the Cares Act in March.

Mnuchin argued Monday that much of that money remains unspent, and and demanding $1 trillion more is “absurd.”

On Twitter, Trump repeated his claim that Democrats were insisting on “BAILOUT MONEY for Democrat run cities and states that are failing badly.” In fact, governors and municipal leaders of both parties have been pleading for additional assistance, in light of plummeting tax revenues that have been forcing mass layoffs.

Emergency $600 weekly unemployment benefits created by the Cares Act expired on July 31. In the course of negotiations Democrats tried to insist on keeping them at the $600 level, while Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows refused to go over $400 — another point of contention.

Trump’s executive action attempts to restore the benefits at the $400 weekly level, but that would include a $100 contribution from the states, something some state officials are saying is not feasible. Mnuchin disputed that Monday, contending that states have “plenty of money” left from the earlier funding round.


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