Mark Meadows and Steven Mnuchin will make yet another trip to Capitol Hill Monday for continued negotiations with Democrats on a new coronavirus stimulus package after weeks of talks deteriorated.
Even if a deal were reached today, a vote to enact the package wouldn’t take place until late this week or early next week – meaning those receiving unemployment checks will go, at minimum, one week without the boosted $600-per-week benefits.
Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, and Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, spent all last week on Capitol Hill negotiating with Democrats and Republicans to reach a deal before the enhanced benefits expired Friday.
They also met with Democrats on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to reach a compromise to extend unemployment payments.
Meadows has vowed that he will be at the Capitol every day this week.
‘We will be speaking to both the president on a regular basis and the staff on a regular basis,’ Meadows said. ‘We will be back every day until we solve this.’
It could be a while until Americans see more economic relief in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as Democrats and Republicans reach a deadlock in negotiations.
While the White House officials make a push to reach a deal, fiscal conservatives on Capitol Hill are not keen on passing a fourth sweeping relief package.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (right) are heading to Capitol Hill Monday for more negotiations on getting the next coronavirus relief package passed
Meadows promised to make a visit to the Capitol every day this week to reach a compromise on legislation as unemployed Americans are now faced with losing the $600-per-week unemployment boost, which expired Friday with no new deal on the table
Meadows and Mnuchin will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (left)
Mnuchin said Sunday morning that Republicans are not willing to concede to the high price tag Democrats want on the legislation – a total of at least $3 trillion.
‘That’s something we’re not going to do,’ Mnuchin told ABC News This Week when asked about the $1 trillion measure Democrats are demanding in aid for state and local governments.
The Republican proposal laid out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday had a total cost of $1 trillion, which some Republicans claim is already too high a price for yet another round of relief in less than five months.
Other than laying out the terms of the Republican-drafted legislation on Monday, however, McConnell has remained largely absent from negotiations and silent on the matter of the next package.
‘We have to balance,’ Mnuchin told ABC. ‘There’s obviously a need to support workers, support the economy.’
‘On the other hand,’ he said, ‘we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amounts of debt.’
In a sign of a continuing partisan stalemate over another relief bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could not give a timeline on Sunday.
‘The fact is we will be close to an agreement when we have an agreement,’ she told ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
Mnuchin told ABC News on Sunday that Republicans won’t give into Democrats’ urge for $1 trillion to state and local governments in the next coronavirus stimulus package. ‘We proposed a one-week extension at $600, so that while we negotiate a longer term solution at least all those people don’t lose their money,’ Mnuchin said. ‘And I’m surprised that the Democrats won’t agree to that’
Pelosi signaled a stalemate in negotiations as she could not give a timeline on when an agreement on next package would be reached as enhanced unemployment benefits expired Friday
‘The fact is, they put on the floor at the end of this week in the Senate $200,’ she lamented of the GOP proposal of a cut from the unemployment boost.
‘We are unified in our support for $600,’ Pelosi asserted of the Democratic Party.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Saturday: ‘We’re not close yet.’
Mnuchin, whose interview with ABC News followed Pelosi’s, said he was ‘surprised’ by her comments.
The Treasury secretary has been the liaison between the White House and Congress, specifically with Democrats, as negotiations commenced in March for a slew of packages to provide relief to Americans and stimulus to the economy in the midst of the pandemic.
‘The president is very concerned about the expiration of the unemployment’s insurance,’ Mnuchin assured.
‘We proposed a one-week extension at $600, so that while we negotiate a longer term solution at least all those people don’t lose their money,’ he added. ‘And I’m surprised that the Democrats won’t agree to that. They are insistent on having this as part of a larger deal.’
The unemployment boost, passed as part of a previous relief bill, expired Friday as lawmakers scrambled to reach a deal on extending or amending the enhanced benefits.
Democrats want to keep the $600 benefits as the virus prevails, but the Republican proposal on Monday detailed a temporary decrease to $200-per-week.
Republicans also revealed, however, that they intend for the decreased benefits to then be phased out after 30 or 60 days and replaced with a cap of 70 per cent of the individual’s pre-coronavirus wages.
Unemployment benefits were boosted to $600 extra per week as millions of Americans find themselves jobless in the midst of the pandemic, but Republicans are proposing that measure be decreased to $200 per week in the next bill
The pandemic has left millions without jobs as Americans have been either temporarily or permanently laid off, had their hours cut or were furloughed.
Republicans have lamented that the high rate of enhanced unemployment has incentivized the newly jobless to remain out of work and continue collecting checks.
Mnuchin and Meadows, who have spent the last week negotiating with lawmakers, met with Democrats again on Saturday.
‘It was a productive discussion,’ Schumer told reporters at the Capitol Saturday. ‘Now each side knows where, where they’re at. And we are going to work very hard to come to an agreement.’
Pelosi also sent out a dear colleague letter following the meeting.
‘Today’s meeting was more productive than our previous discussions, but no agreement can be reached yet,’ Pelosi wrote.
‘Work will continue on a staff level tomorrow,’ the California Democrat continued.
The Republican proposal included a second round of relief checks for Americans like those $1,200 direct checks sent earlier in the pandemic as part of a previous stimulus package.
It also included more than $100 billion for schools in an effort to reopen in the fall and a stop in evictions for those who are unable to pay their rent.