White House, Democrats at coronavirus stimulus stalemate

Joanna Estrada
August 1, 2020

The White House on Friday responded to reports that President Trump is willing to ditch Sen.

Trump, scrambling to prop up a struggling US economy as he runs for re-election in November, has been pushing for another bill.

Talks will continue through the weekend but a deal seems far off.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - speaking simultaneously at podiums on opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue Friday morning - painted a bleak picture of their stalled coronavirus stimulus talks, making clear that they are still a long way from striking a deal.

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.

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. She added that Republicans are "making up things that they say they're offering and the rest".

During eleventh-hour negotiations, Senate Republicans offered a few short-term options, including one that would have extended the benefits another week. Officially, the unemployment benefits expire on July 31, but the aid was meant to be paid a week in advance. "Whether that's my proposal or others that are being floated around, I do think that we need to have a temporary program that is put in place so we don't have a gap". She said a short-term extension only makes sense if the two sides are close to a deal.

According to a person familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the White House proposed reducing the $600 weekly payment to $400 for the next four months.

Pelosi, brimming with confidence, offered a tutorial on negotiating Friday. "We can deal with all these issues in a way that enables us to find common ground to create real solutions for the people we represent as we face this unprecedented pandemic". "And they have to know you will walk" if you don't get a good enough agreement.

The Senate has adjourned until Monday, Aug. 3, as Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on an extension of the $600-per-week jobless benefit that expires Friday.

But Thursday night, Schumer said it was the White House and Republicans who were out of touch.

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.

On Friday, Trump took to Twitter to explicitly endorse extending the $600 payment and criticizing top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer. "This president is very keenly focused on unemployment insurance".

Meadows on Friday sought to blame Democrats for the impasse. Will we continue to discuss? Yes. Absolutely. But it's got to meet the gravity of the problem, ' he said.

"They resent America's working families, getting the $600, which is essential to their needs", Pelosi said. The pending COVID-19 rescue bill, the fifth since the pandemic has struck, is likely the last one before the November election.

"The Democrats are playing for November 3, and we're playing for the good of the people. I think it hurts them".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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