Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Thursday said she would not agree to stand-alone aid package for airlines unless the Trump administration committed to a broader pandemic relief plan to help struggling Americans, declaring that “there is no stand-alone bill without a bigger bill.”
Her comments cast doubt on the prospects for a compromise just hours after President Trump had given an upbeat assessment, saying in an interview that he had reconsidered his decision to pull the plug on bipartisan negotiations on a stimulus plan until after the election.
“I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out,” Mr. Trump told Fox Business. “Now they’re starting to work out.”
The prospect of a deal remained remote, given the steep political obstacles that have hampered agreement for months. Still, Ms. Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, have continued to talk privately about a potential aid measure for airlines to prevent tens of thousands of workers from being furloughed or laid off, and were scheduled to do so again later Thursday.
Mr. Trump said the discussions had also touched on the possibility of another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. “We’re talking about airlines and we’re talking about a bigger deal than airlines,” he said.
Ms. Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill that she had made it clear to Mr. Mnuchin on Wednesday evening that her willingness to consider an airline rescue measure was contingent on the administration’s agreement to a broader stimulus plan.
“We’re happy to review what that stand-alone bill would look like, as part of a bigger bill, if there’s a bigger bill,” she said. “We’re at the table — we want to continue the conversation.”
Republicans blocked a Democratic proposal for airline aid on Friday, calling it partisan and too expensive. A similar Republican bill in the Senate would repurpose unspent funds from the $2.2 trillion stimulus law enacted last spring, a move that many Democrats have opposed.
Still, Mr. Trump appeared to be hoping anew for some kind of deal before Election Day, after his move to publicly scuttle the stimulus discussions prompted alarm among Republicans that voters would blame them for the collapse of the effort.