Pelosi, Senate GOP unhappy with White House coronavirus offer: 'One step forward, two steps back'

House Speaker says the latest Trump $1.8 trillion proposal is insufficient

The White House's latest coronavirus relief deal offer got shot down by both House Democratic leadership and Senate Republicans Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the White House's roughly $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer as "insufficient" and said the Trump administration's proposal on state and local aid, unemployment benefits and measures to fight the virus still falls short. 

"This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back," Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues Saturday.

But in a sign of hope Pelosi said she's still communicating with the White House on finding a breakthrough deal to help American workers and businesses still reeling from the pandemic.

"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," Pelosi wrote.

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Meanwhile, several Senate Republicans rejected the framework for a big spending bill right before an election during a conference call Saturday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“There’s no appetite right now to spend the White House number or the House number,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., two sources briefed on the call told Politico

The senators made clear to the White House they want a targeted plan that addresses the needs of families, small businesses and schools, and would reject a "Pelosi wish list," a source familiar with the call told Fox News.

Mnuchin on Friday made the biggest offer yet to Pelosi, at between $1.8 and $1.9 trillion, according to Tyler Goodspeed, acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

It included a reload of the Paycheck Protection Program, an employee retention tax credit, a second round of direct stimulus payments, and support for the airlines and school reopenings, Goodspeed told Fox Business Friday

It marks an increase from the $1.6 trillion the administration had previously proposed.

"We think that this was a very solid offer, and it's up to the speaker to be reasonable," Goodspeed said. 

Pelosi outlined in her letter the faults with the White House's latest offer:

  • "absence of any response on a strategic plan to crush the virus"
  • funding for state and local governments "remains sadly inadequate"
  • $200 billion less than what Democrats want for expanded unemployment benefits
  • the inclusion of coronavirus lawsuit liability protections for businesses and not including stronger new worker safety standards 
  • plan doesn't include additional refundable tax credits: Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Child Dependent Care Tax Credit
  • a $25 billion offer on child case assistance when Democrats want $57 billion 

"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 in reference to the $2.2 trillion legislation the House passed.

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For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on additional stimulus. Negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.

But that aid is beginning to expire, and lifelines that propped up the economy in the early weeks of the pandemic — like the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a one-time $1,200 stimulus check and sweetened unemployment benefits — lapsed weeks ago.

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Although Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that another bill is necessary to aid the economy's recovery, they sharply disagree over the size and scope of it. House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion aid package last week, and the Trump administration countered with a $1.6 trillion plan. Pelosi rejected that as "inadequate" before the White House came back with the higher offer.

Talks appeared to hit a dead end on Tuesday when Trump tweeted that he had instructed Republicans to halt negotiations until after the election, jolting Wall Street and sending stocks tumbling. But he swiftly reversed course, initially calling for piecemeal legislation, then renewing a push for a broader deal.

"The president wants to do a deal," White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said during an interview with FOX Business' Stuart Varney.

Any bill still needs to get through the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate, where Republicans are expressing concern about another massive spending initiative amid the nation's ballooning deficit, which is projected to hit a record-shattering $3.3 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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Fox Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.