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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says Democrats are unwilling to strike a ‘reasonable’ relief deal

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday criticized top Democrats for what he categorized as stubborn tactics and refusal to discuss any “reasonable deal” to provide relief to American consumers and businesses afflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wall Street had hoped that Mnuchin would support reports published on Monday evening that Senate Republicans are planning to introduce a “skinny,” $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill in an effort to ease the stalemate.

But the Treasury secretary failed to offer much in the way of optimism on talks with Democrats.

“The good news is despite Congress not acting, because Pelosi and Schumer aren’t willing to sit down and strike a reasonable deal, the president moved forward with the [executive order] to help people who are still unemployed,” Mnuchin said on “Squawk on the Street.”

He and White White chief of staff Mark Meadows have led Republican efforts to draft the next coronavirus relief bill. But discussions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have been at a standstill for weeks.

Democrats, who favor a $3 trillion relief package, argue that White House negotiators fail to appreciate the severity of the economic downturn and the ongoing struggle of the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs as a result of the virus.

Republicans, citing recent improvements in economic data, counter that a smaller relief bill is both more appropriate and fiscally responsible.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 29, 2020.

Erin Scott | Reuters

Still, some on Wall Street grew hopeful Monday evening after multiple outlets reported that Senate Republicans were preparing to introduce their own “slimmer” deal.

The pared-down GOP relief bill is expected to include $300 in boosted weekly federal unemployment benefits until December 27, another around of money for the Paycheck Protection Program and an incremental $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, according to both Politico and The Wall Street Journal.

The Republican bill is expected to appeal to GOP lawmakers who are split on whether — or how much — additional spending is needed to support the U.S. economy in the face of improving data. Democrats will likely cast the legislation as insufficient.

“There’s no question that the economic numbers are doing better. So, as we reopen the economy, we see things are getting better,” Mnuchin said. “But the president wants us to do more. He wants us to provide money for kids and jobs, and a second round of the PPP and direct payments are a clear part of that.”

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