Meadows Says Democrats Rebuff White House on Stopgap Jobless Aid

imageStock Markets20 hours ago (Jul 31, 2020 11:18AM ET)

(C) Bloomberg. WASHINGTON, DC – JULY

(Bloomberg) — White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Democrats rebuffed multiple proposals from the Trump administration to extend lapsing supplemental unemployment benefits and have continued to raise the ante in talks on a stimulus package to bolster a U.S. economy hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic.

“At the president’s direction, we have made no less than four different offers” on unemployment insurance and a moratorium on evictions, Meadows said Friday at a White House briefing. “They’ve not even been countered with a proposal”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she’ll continue negotiations with Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but said there can be no stopgap measures without serious progress on a comprehensive virus relief plan.

“The Republicans said they wanted to take a pause. Well, the virus didn’t,” Pelosi said at her own briefing at the same time Meadows was speaking. “Clearly they, and perhaps the White House, do not understand the gravity of the situation.”

The most pressing issue in the talks now is extra federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week that run dry as of Friday, leaving millions of out-of-work Americans without an additional safety net at a time when the jobs market is still staggering.

Republicans want to cut the benefit in the next stimulus package to a portion of lost wages. In an attempt to prevent a lapse in benefits, Republicans including Trump are pressuring Democrats to go along with a stopgap extension of the expanded unemployment benefit as well as a moratorium on evictions while talks continue on a more comprehensive virus relief bill. Meadows said Thursday that the White House was flexible on the amount of the extension.

But Pelosi said after Thursday’s meeting that a temporary extension to avoid a lapse in benefits would be “worthless” without the prospect of a comprehensive deal.

Mnuchin said after leaving Pelosi’s office on Thursday that while the two side were close on some issues, “on certain issues we’re still very far apart.”

The Senate is scheduled to begin its August break at the end of next week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the chamber won’t be in session next week but members will be subject to recall on 24 hours notice if a deal is reached and ready for a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday moved forward with a plan to set up votes next week on Republican proposals to extend the lapsed supplemental unemployment insurance.

The GOP gambit is almost certain to fail because McConnell would need Democratic votes to pass any legislation. But it will give Senate Republicans a chance to go on the record as saying they tried to act.

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.

The biggest roadblocks remained McConnell’s plan to shield employers against lawsuits stemming from Covid-19 infections, and Democrats’ drive to maintain the $600-a-week supplemental unemployment payments and provide $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments.

(C)2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Meadows Says Democrats Rebuff White House on Stopgap Jobless Aid

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