Pelosi fears passing another virus relief bill would give Trump a win, Mnuchin says


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that he worries another coronavirus relief package might not be enacted because Speaker Nancy Pelosi fears it would reflect positively on President Trump.

“I am somewhat concerned that she is afraid that any deal would be good for the president,” he told CNBC.

Pelosi, a Democrat from California, in July began calling the coronavirus the “Trump virus” and has for months blamed the president for the economic downturn that followed nationwide lockdowns.

“The president of the United States is central to that failure because he rejects science and he rejects governance,” Pelosi said on MSNBC in early September. “From the start, he was in denial, delay, distortion, called it a hoax. He just would not accept the science.”

In public appearances, Pelosi devotes time to criticizing Trump’s response to the virus and his latest calls for schools to reopen and to end widespread testing and lockdowns.

Pelosi has ramped up criticism of the president as polls show the public is unhappy with Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and that it could hinder his reelection.

A Harvard-Harris poll of nearly 2,000 registered voters released the first week of September found 59% of voters disapproved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

Mnuchin said that Trump is willing to sign additional executive orders if another relief bill is not passed.

“The president is going to make sure that he uses his authority to do whatever he can to help small businesses, but there are limitations,” he said.

Mnuchin nevertheless said a compromise can be reached. He said that he and the speaker are negotiating a way to fund the federal government beyond the end of the month.

Federal spending has reached record highs as the nation fights the coronavirus.

The Treasury Department on Friday announced that the federal budget deficit swelled to a record of more than $3 trillion with one month left in the fiscal year.

The federal government added $200 billion to the deficit in August.

The Congressional Budget Office earlier this month projected increasing deficits due in large part to the federal government’s response to the pandemic.

It estimated that the federal deficit for the current fiscal year would be $3.3 trillion, more than triple the shortfall recorded in fiscal year 2019.

The anticipated deficit would be 16% of gross domestic product, the largest since 1945 when the nation financed its World War II efforts.

Mnuchin said that the deficits are justified to fight the pandemic.

“Now is not the time to worry about shrinking the deficit,” he said.