Democrats Say They Are Willing to Meet ‘Halfway’ on Stimulus Package With White House

August 9, 2020 Updated: August 9, 2020

White House officials and top Democrats on Sunday sparred in respective televised interviews, with some Democrats saying they are still willing to meet halfway on a new stimulus measure.

It came after President Donald Trump issued executive orders to provide $400-per-week in unemployment benefits, suspend evictions, and suspend student loan payments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, talks stalled between the White House and the Democratic negotiators—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Pelosi told CNN that there is “of course … room for compromise” on the $600-per-week unemployment benefits that Democrats had sought to keep. “It depends on what else is in the bill,” she added.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, told “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Democrats in the Senate are “ready to meet the White House and the Republicans halfway.”

“We were at $3.4 trillion in the bill that Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats passed twelve weeks ago,” Durbin, the current Senate minority whip, told the news outlet, referring to the House Democrat-passed HEROES Act. He added that “now we’ve come down to the range of two trillion.”

Senate Republicans have proposed $1 trillion in their HEALS Act, which omitted $1 trillion for state and local government funding.

Schumer, meanwhile, said that the executive orders that were authorized by Trump are “unworkable, weak, and narrow.”

“That is why I am calling on President Trump and the GOP to meet Democrats in the middle — like we have done in the prior bills — and come up with an agreement that will actually help us get through this crisis,” he told reporters.

Trump on Saturday signed the four executive actions, including the supplemental unemployment aid. Those who were unemployed were receiving $600-per-week in federal aid until the program expired at the end of last month.

Trump also deferred the payroll tax until Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, for employees making less than $100,000 per year. The payroll tax funds Medicare and Social Security, and employees will have to pay the federal government back.

Durbin remarked in the interview that “there will be some challenges” to some of Trump’s executive orders in court.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the White House on Sunday that Democrats need to make the next move.

“I think we’ve been very clear that they need to come back with a compromise on the state and local from their trillion dollars, and the unemployment benefits, and if so we’ll respond. I think the majority of the other issues, we’ve reached a compromise on,” Mnuchin added.