The Trump administration on Sunday asked U.S. lawmakers to approve legislation using leftover funds from the last pandemic stimulus package toward new economic recovery efforts as negotiations on a larger rescue bill face resistance.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows called on Congress to pass a stripped-down coronavirus relief bill, amounting to a fraction of the $2.2 trillion aid package sought by Democrats.
It's the latest twist in the on-again, off-again negotiations to aid a struggling U.S. economy.
The two Trump administration officials on Sunday sent a letter to lawmakers asking them to "immediately vote" on legislation that would use leftover funds from a small business loan program, which total roughly $130 billion.
The request comes as talks on a more comprehensive package face resistance and economists say relief is desperately needed.
"We're going to continue to see a grinding, very slow recovery with thousands of small businesses around the country going bankrupt." Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, told CBS News on Sunday that damage from the economic downturn was deep and significant stimulus necessary.
"Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in this pandemic, and that means we need continued assistance." Stimulus talks have swung between optimism and total collapse within days, seemingly as Donald Trump changed his mind.
Last week, the White House abruptly ended talks following a tweet from the president instructing his "representatives to stop negotiating until after the election." Later that same day, Trump was pushing lawmakers to approve new spending.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was still ready to talk with the White House but has rejected piecemeal proposals unless they are a part of a larger rescue package.
On Friday, the administration said it was ready to offer $1.8 trillion, moving closer to Democrats' demand for $2.2 trillion.
But the bigger problem it faces may be from Senate Republicans, who've balked at big spending.
And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel - who may have the final say - suggested he didn't see any new agreement happening before Election Day.