Trump Wants 'More Money at His Discretion' in Latest COVID Stimulus Proposal: Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested there are still several disagreements between House Democrats and the Trump administration on the latest coronavirus relief package, writing that Donald Trump "wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold" in a letter to Democratic colleagues Saturday regarding the president's latest proposal.

"When the President talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold, rather than agreeing on language prescribing how we honor our workers, crush the virus and put money in the pockets of workers," Pelosi wrote. "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."

She said that the stimulus proposal essentially amounted to "one step forward, two steps back."

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump said that he was abruptly ending coronavirus relief negotiations, mentioning that he "instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election." The president reversed course just moments later, urging the House to pass standalone relief bills and suggesting that he would support a substantial relief package.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox Business on Friday that Trump has "approved a revised package" and that he would "like to do a deal."

"Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!" Trump tweeted that same day.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put forward a $1.8 trillion proposal on Friday, the administration's largest offer since negotiations began during the summer, which he presented to Pelosi in a roughly 30-minute phone call.

However, Senate Republicans reportedly expressed opposition to several specific provisions of the bill—in addition to being wary of the large price tag—during a conference call with Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Saturday morning, according to the Washington Post.

Pelosi added in her letter that the country cannot safely reopen schools, the economy and communities without combating the virus "with the science-based, national plan for testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, and for the equitable and ethical distribution of a safe and effective vaccine once developed."

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, leaves after her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 8. Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty

Pelosi wrote that such a plan was outlined in the revised HEROES Act, a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the House earlier this month and a slimmed-down version of the $3.4 trillion relief bill passed in May, both of which received intense GOP opposition.

"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 before outlining what the Heroes Act could do for families while highlighting the shortcomings of the Trump administration's proposal.

Pelosi also criticized the administration's insistence on a tax benefit that she said would benefit wealthy people at the expense of America's poorest children and families who are "directly affected by the coronavirus."

Although the opposition from both Democrats and Republicans toward Trump's latest proposal makes it even more unlikely that a coronavirus economic relief bill will pass before Election Day, Pelosi says she is still hopeful that negotiations will be able to continue.

"Despite these unaddressed concerns, I remain hopeful that yesterday's developments will move us closer to an agreement on a relief package that addresses the health and economic crisis facing America's families," she wrote.