Pelosi says coronavirus aid talks with Mnuchin, Meadows to continue Tuesday

Marco Green
August 4, 2020

Democratic negotiators spoke of progress at nearly the very moment that top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell was slamming them for taking a hard line in the talks. The two sides held meetings on over the weekend. but said they're not close to an agreement. There are a lot of issues that are still outstanding. But I think there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on next moves, with Democrats standing behind a $3 trillion plan that passed the House in May and Republicans raising concerns over their own $1 trillion proposal laid out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week. The parties discussed top line numbers, particularly funding to reopen schools, but remained far apart on unemployment insurance and another huge issue, funding for state and local governments. But Democrats have rejected the idea, and a source familiar with the negotiations said last week the White House had indicated it could go along with a bill that did not include the liability measure.

"We're gonna work every day until we reach a reasonable agreement that's good for the American public", Mnuchin said. McConnell and other Senate Republicans have dismissed that legislation as a Democratic "wish list" that didn't actually provide a basis for bipartisan, bicameral talks.

President Donald Trump is seeking immediate action on higher unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions while Congress members debate on a larger COVID-19 relief bill, said White House adviser Peter Navarro in a Monday interview.

Democrats continue to resist a short-term approach, and rejected an administration proposal to extend the $600 benefit for an additional week to give more time to negotiate. The benefit has helped prop up the economy and family budgets as the coronavirus has wrought havoc. The White House wants to see another round of $1,200 stimulus payments and extend the supplemental jobless benefit and partial eviction ban but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants money for state and local governments, unemployment benefits, and food aid.

"We're making some progress on certain issues, moving closer together", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after Monday's talks. "We still have our differences, we are trying to have a clearer understanding of what the needs are, and the needs are that millions of children in our country are food insecure", Pelosi said. "Millions of people in our country are concerned about being evicted. That's what we're looking for", Navarro said. "It really is a matter of will. This is just a painful period between people finally deciding okay, we want a deal, and then what that deal will ultimately look like".

Likewise, there is broad support for another round of direct payments to taxpayers.

Among the biggest sticking points is the $600 federal unemployment benefit, which Democrats want to see extended into next year. Democrats want nearly $1 trillion for localities grappling with pandemic-related revenue losses. In an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, two conservative allies of the president argued that Mr. Trump has the authority to order the Internal Revenue Service to suspend the tax if he declares a national economic emergency.

Mr. Trump on Monday accused Democrats of "slow rolling" the bill, asserting that they want "bailout money" for states.

Pelosi told fellow House Democrats on a conference call later Monday that there may be no resolution of the crisis until next week, as neither side has shifted on unemployment insurance.

One measure Republicans expected to take to a vote would allow states to give workers either a flat $200 weekly sum or an amount of no more than $500 that, when combined with state benefits, would be equivalent to two-thirds of a person's lost wages.

McConnell chastised Pelosi and Schumer on the Senate floor Monday afternoon for their approach to negotiations, slamming them again for pushing the House's almost $3.5 trillion Heroes Act, which passed in May. Since they announced that strategy, however, coronavirus caseloads have spiked and the economy has absorbed an enormous blow.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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