House Democrats prepare new coronavirus aid proposal 

    House Democrats are readying a new, scaled-down package of coronavirus aid that would include assistance to airlines, restaurants and small businesses, according to people familiar with the matter, but Republicans say the chances of a deal before Election Day remain slim.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is aiming for a price tag of around $2.4 trillion, according to Democratic aides, in the range of what she has said she would be willing to accept in negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reports. The White House has indicated it could support spending as much as $1.5 trillion, though many Senate Republicans have said they wouldn’t back that level of spending.

    “We want a bill passed and signed so that’s what our focus is, trying to get an agreement before we go home,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. 

    Hoyer says Democrats are focused on working to find a deal that both chambers can accept and is noncommittal on whether the House will vote on legislation without an agreement with the White House. Almost immediately, centrist Democratic lawmakers began circulating a letter encouraging leadership to hold a vote on the package, according to aides.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he and Pelosi had spoken repeatedly in recent days in a successful, separate effort to reach an agreement on keeping the government funded until Dec. 11, and they also plan to keep the door open for coronavirus talks.

    “We’ve agreed to continue to have discussions” about coronavirus aid, Mnuchin said in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. “I think there are areas of support. Let’s pass things that we agree on quickly and we can always come back.”

    Reports of a new plan got a skeptical reaction from Republican senators, however. Read the full story here.