Deep divide on aid bill, jobless benefit nears end

Elias Hubbard
August 1, 2020

But Pelosi and Schumer rejected the offer, arguing that Republicans don't understand that the situation requires a solution that is larger in scope.

Asked why she rejected a proposal from Republican President Donald Trump's administration for a one-week extension of the US$600 (RM2,544) weekly jobless payment, Pelosi told reporters a short-term fix would be appropriate "if you are on a path" toward a deal.

'They never have understood the gravity of it, ' she noted.

MARK MEADOWS: What we're seeing is politics as usual from Democrats up on Capitol Hill.

"We're saying, we have the Heroes Act - respond to us on that and we'll go forward". On certain issues we're still very far apart.

It's a sign of what many on both sides already know: That no deal is likely to emerge for weeks, if at all. Will we continue to discuss? Yes.

He urged both sides to put aside "extreme positions" and "figure out how we can come together".

All the players say they want an agreement but none have - yet - been willing to compromise on key points, such as the amount to extend the unemployment benefits, for how long, and additional funding for cities and states whose budgets took a hit during the pandemic.

MITCH MCCONNELL: We've had enough rope-a-dope.

His plan quickly stalled after conservative Republican senators complained about its $1 trillion price tag and Democrats - plus some Republicans - criticized the package for containing non-COVID matters, such as funding for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters.

The US economy shrank at a 32.9% annual rate between April and June - the sharpest decline for decades. Unemployment sits at 14.7 per cent.

Negotiations were to continue today between White House officials and congressional Democrats.

In the White House briefing room, Meadows said he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "made no less than four different offers" on extending enhanced unemployment benefits and protection against eviction.

He brought up a shell bill and, with a simple majority vote, put it into play for next week - something that creates a number of potential options, from serving as a vehicle for a short-term unemployment deal, or even a comprehensive deal, or just a place where there will be dueling messaging votes. "We need to rectify this and pass an extension, now". 'Like the payments sent directly to 160 million Americans earlier this year, which was a tremendously successful program'.

Economic analyses have repeatedly shown that the boosted federal benefits have helped prop up other parts of the economy - and a cut would cost the USA millions of jobs.

Republicans in the Senate had been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but their resolve weakened as the expiration of the popular benefit neared.

Democrats also refused to accept a seven-day extension of jobless benefits, saying any such extension would be pointless given that no deal is in the offing.

The two sides have to bridge significant differences between the $1 trillion stimulus plan the GOP released Monday and the $3.5 trillion package House Democrats passed in May.

McConnell has tried to push the blame to the opposition.

Senate Republicans introduced a $1 trillion package this week that contains a liability shield to protect businesses, schools and other institutions from coronavirus-related lawsuits; gives $105 billion to schools, with two-thirds going to those that reopen; distributes another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to lower-income Americans; provides money for COVID-19 testing and to health care agencies at the center of the pandemic fight; and provides tax credits to hard-hit businesses.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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