White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows returned to the U.S. Capitol on Saturday in a bid to pressure Democrats into accepting a slimmed-down economic stimulus bill after weeks of deadlock.
The House has convened for a rare Saturday session to vote on a bill providing $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service. Meadows argued that small business funding and other economic provisions should be added to the bill, and said that he met with rank and file Democratic and Republican lawmakers to talk about possible paths to a compromise.
Meadows and his entourage also went to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite in an impromptu attempt to meet about the stimulus impasse, and was told she was in a meeting. Pelosi and the White House broke off stimulus talks Aug. 7 and haven’t met since.
“If she wants to strike a deal with the president of the United States on behalf of the American people, the president is willing to do that,” Meadows told reporters. “At the same time that deal needs to be based on real numbers and real issues that are urgent in terms of their need to be addressed, and not a partisan wish list.”
Meadows said he would call the speaker later about resuming negotiations and that he’s optimistic a deal could be reached on Postal Service funding, direct stimulus checks for Americans, expanded unemployment insurance, small business aid and aid for schools.
“Those issues are not as divisive as one might think,” said the former representative from North Carolina, adding that Democrats will have to drop demands for state and local aid totaling nearly $1 trillion. That aid, he said, isn’t based on real needs.
Pelosi earlier told reporters that Meadows, whom she referred to as “what’s his name,” was proposing a plan that would lead to millions of layoffs of public sector workers, and would also jeopardize the safety of school children since it ties aid to schools reopening.
“His list is very deficient,” Pelosi said, adding that Democrats are willing to talk if Republicans double their $1 trillion total offer of stimulus.