Republicans and Democrats agreed progress was made on Saturday during deliberations on a new stimulus deal to combat the effects of the coronavirus, a bright spot in what was an otherwise tense week of negotiations.
“We’re not close yet, but it has been a productive discussion and now each side knows where they stand,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., after a meeting with the chair of the Senate. House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven. Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The group spent days trying to balance the priorities for what would be a fifth round of stimulus funding. Negotiations intensified on Friday when both sides blamed the other for the standoff as a $ 600 weekly unemployment benefit ended with no solution in sight.
“I guess we would also rate the discussions as the most productive we have had so far,” Mnuchin said. “We have gone through a long list of political issues on our side and on their side, as we have suggested in the past, there is clearly a subset of issues that we both very much agree on. ”
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Mnuchin said there was an overlap in the issues on which both sides agree and which should be prioritized in the next package.
“The four of us agree that education is timely,” Mnuchin said. “There are schools that want to open and will need money for social distancing and PPE (personal protective equipment). ”
He also said there was “bipartisan support” for small business loans.
But Meadows, who has spoken to President Donald Trump throughout the talks, warned that a deal was not near.
“I don’t mean to suggest a deal is imminent because it isn’t,” Meadows said. “There are still substantial differences, but we have made good progress. ”
Pelosi remained steadfast in his desire to push through a broader bill and not take a piecemeal approach suggested by Republicans and the White House, such as a short-term extension of unemployment benefits, saying on Saturday: “We don’t let’s not do it in the short term. ”
“There is clearly a desire on their part to do a whole package,” Mnuchin said, referring to Democrats’ demand to quickly pass a broader, long-term bill. “We have made it clear that we are prepared to deal with the situation in the short term. run and move on to something quickly and come back to the bigger issues, so we’re at a stalemate on that.
The negotiations: Congress leaves town without coronavirus stimulus deal, allowing $ 600 unemployment benefits to end
Pelosi and Schumer are expected to continue their talks with Mnuchin and Meadows on Monday.
The tones of both teams on Saturday were more measured than a day earlier.
At a press conference on Friday, Meadows criticized Democrats for rejecting a short-term deal to keep the increased unemployment benefit for a week.
“What we are seeing is the usual Democrats’ politics on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said. “Democrats believe they have all the cards on their side, and they are prepared to play those cards at the expense of those who are hurting. ”
In his own press conference on Friday, Pelosi condemned Republicans and the Trump administration for taking a “piecemeal” approach to relief as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationwide.
“In this time of all of this, what are the Republicans proposing? Cut benefits to American working families (by) putting $ 200 on the ground yesterday, ”she said. “Six hundred dollars are essential in the lives of these families. ”
Pelosi argued that a short-term deal to extend unemployment benefits by a week would only help if lawmakers had almost completed a larger bill, noting how long it would take for the measure to be adopted.
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Meadows and Mnuchin had also negotiated Thursday with Pelosi and Schumer. Meadows said Democrats were offered four separate deals throughout the day, but rejected them all.
“We are going in the wrong direction. They are going in the wrong direction because of partisan politics. It is very disappointing, ”he said.
House Democrats passed their version of the next stimulus in May. The $ 3 trillion package would have extended the unemployment clause by at least $ 600 until January 2021. The proposal was not taken up by the Republican-majority Senate.
Senate Republicans released a $ 1 trillion counter-proposal on Monday, which has been criticized by some conservative lawmakers for its error and cost. It has also been denounced by Democrats for failing to provide sufficient assistance to schools, essential workers, tenants facing eviction, landlords facing foreclosure or recipients of food stamps.
“I’ll speak in terms of animals. Let’s say you are at the zoo. You see a giraffe. You see a flamingo. These two bills are not compatible, ”Pelosi said in talks with Republicans on Tuesday, according to a source not authorized to speak publicly.
Contribution: Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu, Courtney Subramanian et Ledyard King