Negotiations resumed Friday between congressional Democrats and the White House after the House passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill and President Donald Trump announced he was infected with COVID-19.

“Let’s find the key points and pass it,” White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House when asked about legislation that would direct a second stimulus check to millions of Americans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that Trump’s illness “kind of changes the dynamic because here they see the reality of what we have been saying all along.”

She said on MSNBC that she was optimistic about a stimulus deal.

“We always have to find a path. That is our responsibility to do so, and I believe that we will,” she said. “We’ll find our middle ground. We’re legislators. We’ll get the job done.”

And while House members went home Friday to campaign for re-election, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said they would be called back to Washington if an agreement was reached.

Still, the House vote late Thursday put House Democrats on record shortly before Election Day in support of new spending to help pull the economy out of its coronavirus-induced downturn.

Only 661,000 jobs were created last month, the Labor Department reported Friday. That was below expectations and less than half of August’s 1.5 million.

But the legislation received no Republican votes and the Senate is not likely to take it up.

“I told leadership we need to get a bipartisan bill passed and signed into law by the president,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-11th Dist. “Congress and the White House need to stay at work and get this done.”

The measure would provide taxpayers with another $1,200 stimulus check, plus $500 for each dependent; restore the extra $600 federal unemployment insurance payment through Jan. 31; and provide $436 billion for state, local, territorial and tribal governments that have seen tax revenues drop because they shut down their economies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It would provide $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, $2.4 billion for Amtrak and $32 billion for public transportation systems to help cover revenue losses, and extend the paycheck protection program while allowing small businesses to request a second loan.

It also would suspend the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes for this year.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

The measure is larger than the Senate Republicans’ $500 billion bill that failed to pass and their original $1 trillion proposal that they didn’t bring up for a vote due to lack of support. But it is less than the $3.4 trillion package passed by the House in May.

It also was more expensive than the bipartisan $1.5 trillion proposal offered by a group of more moderate Democratic and Republican lawmakers and which has received praise from Trump. That proposal by the Problem Solvers Caucus automatically would grow to $1.9 trillion if the pandemic continues and a vaccine remains elusive.

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Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com.



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