• There have been no formal talks on the next round of coronavirus stimulus between Democrats and the White House since Aug. 7
  • Pelosi says the situation has only gotten worse since the House passed a more than $3 trillion measure in May
  • Senate Republicans failed to advance a less than $1 trillion measure last week

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to draw a sharp line Thursday, saying she cannot see Democrats supporting anything less than $2.2 trillion for the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending. Senate Republican leaders, acknowledging there’s little chance the GOP would support a package that size, eyed the possibility of hitting the campaign trail by the end of next week.

The assessments came after President Trump indicated Wednesday he might support a bigger package than what Republicans have proposed, but it was unclear whether he would be willing to go along with the Democrats’ price tag.

Pelosi, who earlier this week said she would keep the House in session until a relief package is adopted, told reporters Thursday it’s hard to see “how we can go any lower” than $2.2 trillion in light of the growing need.

Talks between Democrats and the White House broke off Aug. 7, amid disagreement over the amount of supplemental unemployment benefits, federal aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, and aid to the post office, among the issues.

"When we go into a negotiation it's about the allocation of the resources," Pelosi said.

House Democrats approved a $3.4 trillion aid package in May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the proposal. The Republican counteroffer was for a $1 trillion package, which was rejected outright by Democrats. Last week, an effort to move an even slimmer package forward failed in the Senate although it had the support of 52 GOP senators.

Pelosi said Republicans have an odd way of negotiating. She noted when Democrats lopped off more than $1 trillion from their proposal, Republicans reduced their proposal, as well, instead of moving to meet Democrats in the middle. She said Republicans refuse to recognize the public need. A bipartisan group of House members this week unveiled a $1.5 trillion plan that Pelosi labeled as inadequate.

Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at the Century Foundation and one of the nation’s leading experts on unemployment insurance, has been pushing for Congress to take action on supplemental benefits for weeks, telling International Business Times the “crisis has yet to abate, rehiring is growing slowly and the struggles of families and businesses continue to fester.”

The most recent unemployment figures indicate nearly 30 million Americans are collecting benefits compared to 1.5 million last year at this time.

Pelosi said since Democrats adopted their May package, the situation has changed with problems among airlines and small businesses, especially restaurants, worsening.

Republican senators said Thursday they doubt a stimulus deal will be reached before the election. Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said lawmakers are focused on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government going once the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and then plan to leave town. Senate Republicans have 23 seats to defend while Democrats have 12.

“Ideally if we could get things wrapped up by the end of next week … I think that would be a good outcome for everyone and then we’ll take it [stimulus] up again after November,” he said.

“We know we need the [continuing resolution]. We’re not going to get anything else done,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said. “The Dems have made very clear they’re not going to do any legislation other than the CR.”

Once the current session ends, Congress is not scheduled to return to Washington until the week after the Nov. 3 election for its lame duck session.