WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump called Thursday for more stimulus spending than the $1.8 trillion that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin proposed in his talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"I would take more. I would go higher," Trump said on Fox Business Network, repeating his directive from earlier in the week to "go big or go home!!!"
Trump said he has communicated his views to Mnuchin.
Mnuchin and Pelosi, D-Calif., have negotiated for days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile, plans to try again next week to advance a $500 billion plan that Democrats previously blocked.
At several appearances in Kentucky on Thursday, where he is campaigning for reelection, McConnell made clear that he and his fellow GOP senators will not accept a stimulus bill of the magnitude Trump is discussing.
"He is willing to go higher than my members are," McConnell said of Trump while speaking at a medical center in Princeton, Ky. McConnell added that he doesn't think the Pelosi-Mnuchin talks will get an outcome anyway because "even the president's higher number she's not willing to match."
"I think a better way to do it is to try to more narrowly craft it and make the argument to the speaker and everyone else that just because you can't have all you want, why not do what we can agree to do, which I think argues for a smaller package," McConnell said.
Trump sees the issue differently.
"The Republicans are very willing to do it," Trump said, insisting that Pelosi is standing in the way and that "she's got a lot of mental problems."
"Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to give anything. She thinks it helps her with the election ... . We're not holding it up. She's holding it up," Trump said.
Trump added that Pelosi is "asking for all sorts of goodies -- she wants to bail out badly run Democrat states and cities ... . She wants money for things you could -- your pride couldn't let it happen."
On a private call with members of her caucus Thursday, Pelosi said House Democrats have "maximum leverage" now, and that it's "not the time to say 'let's fold,'" according to several people on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. She said the Mnuchin proposal remains inadequate, and questioned why she would accept something that the administration can't sell to the Senate.
Mnuchin appeared to be moving in Pelosi's direction.
"When I speak to Pelosi today, I'm going to tell her that we're not going to let the testing issue stand in the way. That we'll fundamentally agree with their testing language, subject to minor issues," Mnuchin said on CNBC. "This issue is being overblown."
It was not immediately clear, however, what if anything was being agreed to.
Meanwhile, after an expansion of the safety net in the spring saved millions of people from poverty, the aid is now largely exhausted, and poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found.
The number of poor people has grown by 8 million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by 4 million at the pandemic's start as a result of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, Act.
Using a different definition of poverty, researchers from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by 6 million people in the past three months, with circumstances worsening most for Black people and children.
"These numbers are very concerning," said Bruce Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago and an author of the study. "They tell us people are having a lot more trouble paying their bills, paying their rent, putting food on the table."
About a third of the unemployed still do not receive unemployment checks, the Columbia analysts estimated. Some jobless people are unaware they can apply, and many encounter red tape.
Workers in the country illegally are disqualified from unemployment aid, and no one in their households can get stimulus checks.
Information for this article was contributed by Erica Werner and Jeff Stein of The Washington Post; and by Jason DeParle of The New York Times.