Mnuchin Urges Tapping Leftover Paycheck Protection Cash as Stimulus Talks Stall

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent letter to lawmakers Sunday but was met with criticism from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin implored lawmakers in a letter Sunday to "come together and immediately" vote on a bill to allow spending an unused portion of a fund meant for small businesses -- the Paycheck Protection Program -- to help Americans hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Since earlier measures were exhausted earlier in the year, lawmakers and the White House have been unable to agree on a new package to help workers who are out of a job and industries that have been socked by coronavirus restrictions and concerns. 

President Trump had earlier this month said nothing would be passed before the election and then appeared to pull back that comment soon after. 

In his letter co-signed by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Mnuchin called the initial pandemic spending package and its swift approval "an example of us working together to help American workers and businesses that were impacted by the pandemic."

But he said, "certain parts of the economy" need help, and said new stimulus legislation should provide funds for testing, vaccines, schools, small businesses and businesses such as hotels, restaurants and airlines, but that the "all-or-nothing approach" is unacceptable.

Tapping into Paycheck Protection Program cash would put loose around $130 billion, according to Reuters, while lawmakers battle over their own bill.

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) however, fired back with her own letter on Sunday, saying the current offer by the White House is "miserable and deadly failure."

"This past week, the President demonstrated very clearly that he has not taken the war against the virus seriously, personally or nationally. This attitude is reflected in the grossly inadequate response we finally received from the Administration on Saturday," said Pelosi, adding that coronavirus diagnoses have been rising nationally.

Pelosi cited differences in belief between Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the White House on who should benefit from stimulus spending, as well as addressing Covid-19 responses such as testing, tracing and treatment.

"We cannot safely reopen schools, the economy and our communities until we crush the virus with the science-based national plan for testing, tracing, treatment and isolation, and for the equitable and ethical distribution of a safe and effective vaccine once developed," she added, promoting the so-called Heroes Act, passed by the House in May.

The day before, Pelosi had called the White House's nearly $2 trillion stimulus proposal offered on Friday as "one step forward, two steps back."

This story has been updated.