White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday held a meeting for about two hours in Washington on a pandemic relief measure.
Pelosi told CBS News that the meeting was “productive,” telling reporters afterward that “we’re moving down the track,” without elaborating.
Schumer, meanwhile, added that “there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can,” although there are some issues that still need to be worked out.
“We’re making some progress on certain issues, moving closer together,” he told reporters while adding that “there are a lot of issues that are still outstanding.”
Among the most contentious issues is whether to continue the federal unemployment benefits program of $600 per week, which expired last week. Republicans in the Senate proposed a $200-per-week and wage replacement program in their HEALS Act last week, but Democrats said it’s not enough.
When asked Monday about the unemployment program, Schumer told reporters that Republicans are “sticking to their position.” And Pelosi told CNN earlier on Monday that the $600-per-week provision should be kept unless the joblessness rate declines.
“As the unemployment goes down, the number can go down,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Monday that Democrats are refusing to cooperate.
The “speaker of the House and Democratic leader continue to say our way or the highway,” he said, referring to Pelosi and Schumer.
At the White House, President Donald Trump said he considered issuing an executive order that would help those who are affected by the pandemic, such as a moratorium on evictions.
“I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we’re looking at that very seriously right now,” he said Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Meadows told CBS News on Sunday that he is “not optimistic” that a relief package will be passed in the “very near” future.
Republicans have asserted that the $600-per-month benefits are creating a reason for people not to return back to work while Democrats have said it is needed to provide for families that are suffering during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Democrats and Republicans are also at odds with providing more funding to cities and states amid the economic downturn. In the HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in May, they sought to provide $1 trillion in funding, while the HEALS Act provides none.
They also have differing opinions on whether there should be liability protection for businesses, hospitals, and schools. Republicans support the measure and Democrats do not.