House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) used August’s jobs report and the relatively high 8.4 percent unemployment rate to push for more pandemic stimulus measures, coming weeks after talks between Democrats and the White House stalled.
Pelosi, Schumer, and White House officials are expected to meet for negotiations later this month when members of Congress return to Washington after their break.
A recent jobs report from the Department of Labor revealed that the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent in August from 10.2 percent in July and well below expectations of 9.8 percent. Non-farm payrolls increased by 1.37 million in August, suggesting that the economy is continuing to climb out of the doldrums caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
The drop may have been, in part, spurred along by the ending of extended $600-per-week federal unemployment payments. That program ended on July 31.
In a statement on Friday, Pelosi wrote that the report and unemployment rate “highlights the continuing urgent need for action as the economic recovery stimulated by Congress’s early and robust investments continues to slow down.”
She added, “More than six months into this crisis, tens of millions are still out of work, particularly in communities of color, with more than 1 million Americans having filed for pandemic and initial unemployment claims for 24 straight weeks.”
Schumer, meanwhile, criticized President Donald Trump after he touted the U.S. economic recovery on Twitter, saying that “8.4% unemployment is nothing to brag about.”
8.4% unemployment is nothing to brag about. https://t.co/2HPkedFLy5
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 4, 2020
Negotiations between Pelosi, Schumer, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin broke down early last month. The key sticking points were whether to provide nearly $1 trillion in federal aid to state and local governments as well as how much in unemployment benefits should be provided. Initially, Democrats in the House passed a nearly $3.5 trillion bill that Senate Republicans said would never clear the upper chamber.
Democrats, amid the impasse, said that a bill less than $2.2 trillion won’t clear the House. Republicans have sought to pass a “skinny” bill far less than that.
Pelosi on Friday accused the GOP of demonstrating “utter contempt” for the “livelihoods of millions of Americans who are being devastated by Republicans’ deadly inaction.”
However, Mnuchin told a House panel earlier this week that Congress needs to act in a bipartisan manner and provide targeted stimulus but said he doesn’t “support $2.2 trillion.”
Other than unemployment and aid to states and local jurisdictions, stimulus payments, reopening schools, and liability protections for businesses are on the table.
Mnuchin said Congress should try to pass a bill with measures that both Democrats and Republicans can agree upon.
“I believe a bipartisan agreement still should be reached and would provide substantial funds for schools, testing, vaccines, [Payment Protection Program loans] for small businesses, continued enhanced unemployment benefits, child care, nutrition, agriculture, and the U.S. Postal Service, along with liability protection for universities, schools, and businesses,” Mnuchin said in front of the panel.