White House, Democrats at coronavirus stimulus stalemate

01 Août, 2020, 17:38 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie

Millions of Americans will lose their $600-a-week enhanced unemployment unemployment at midnight on Friday as the White House and Democrats struggle to come up with a deal that would extend the benefits.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows resumed talks earlier in the day, but failed to agree on a deal.

The benefits would only last for a few months before states would be required to set up their own unemployment programs.

Democrats have largely refused to pass the urgent unemployment aid separate from the rest of the relief package in hopes of pressuring Republicans to drop their resistance to additional spending. House Democrats, meanwhile, voted back in May to extend the $600 weekly benefit until the end of the year. The legislation has been in the works for months, but Democrat and Republican lawmakers keep butting heads over major aspects of the package.

Besides the $600 "enhanced" payment, Democrats are seeking a wide-ranging economic stimulus bill that would include about $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments experiencing plunging revenues during the economic downturn.

Republicans have argued that businesses haven't been able to rehire workers who now may be taking in more from unemployment benefits than they would from returning to jobs.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has also blamed Democrats for delaying progress on the latest coronavirus relief legislation.

"They won't engage - period", McConnell said on the Senate floor.

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- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday explained that she rejected the White House's proposal for a temporary extension of benefits because the two sides were still miles apart on a broader coronavirus aid bill.

Pelosi said such a short-term extension might make sense if a deal were in sight on a larger bill, and more time was needed to complete it. But getting the White and House Democrats to sign off on it remains a battle.

"God bless him for having a proposal, I don't think he can pass that in the Senate either", Pelosi said when asked about Romney's proposal.

Pelosi charged Republicans with offering a "piecemeal" solution. "If we don't help prop it up, people are going to be in deep, deep distress, and so many people are now", Mr. "It's a public relations stunt on their part".

Also at issue in the negotiations is an nearly $1 trillion Democratic demand for funding for state and local governments, a second $1,200 direct payment to most American adults, more than $100 billion to help schools reopen and a liability shield measure that is essential to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"First, we want a temporary extension of expanded unemployment benefits", President Donald Trump said at a press briefing on Thursday. It might all be a sideshow, but often movement of any kind starts to jar loose actual discussions which lead to actual movement on things.

The unemployment insurance is a principal element as talks continue on a COVID-19 relief bill, which is expected to grow considerably from a $1 trillion-plus GOP draft released this week.

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