As talks on a pandemic stimulus package remain stalled on Wednesday, negotiators for Democrats and Republicans said they have not come to any agreements on further aid.
“We’re miles apart,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a televised interview on Wednesday, saying education funding and other needs are division points.
However, Pelosi seemed to suggest that the parties would return to negotiations in the near future despite the executive actions that were authorized by President Donald Trump last weekend that would bypass Congress.
“It’s a chasm … but as a practical matter, they’re going to have to come to the table,” Pelosi said.
Trump’s actions renewed the expanded federal unemployment benefits that expired in July but at a reduced amount of $400 per week, with states having to pay $100. The other orders would defer workers’ payroll taxes from September 1 until December 31 for anyone who makes less than $104,000 per year, push back student loan payments again, and look into issuing a moratorium on evictions. There is speculation that the orders will be challenged in court, while Democrats have decried them as unconstitutional as Congress controls funding.
While the unemployment benefits have been a sticking point in negotiations, Democrats and Republicans disagree on funding for states and cities. In their HEROES Act passed in the House, Democrats sought $1 trillion in funding, which both Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have resoundingly rejected.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, said Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are using economic hardships being felt by tens of millions of Americans to pressure Trump and Republicans.
“They think they have political leverage over the president of the United States and so they’re willing to personally increase the pain for vulnerable families unless they get their way on matters not related to Covid,” McConnell said on the Senate floor earlier this week. “Republicans wanted to agree on the things we could agree to. Democrats said our way or the highway.”
Schumer responded by saying that the GOP and White House are the ones refusing to make a compromise.
“Rather than compromise, our Republican counterparts said, ‘Take a hike,'” he said. “Quite literally they said virtually this in the room: ‘It’s going to be our way or no. We’re not going to meet you in the middle.'”
At this time, it’s not exactly clear when talks between the two parties will resume on Capitol Hill.
Typically, both the Senate and House go on a recess during the month of August. However, as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic is still ongoing, some have called on Congress to return to Washington.
Among them is Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who on Tuesday told his constituents that “I think Congress should be in session.”
“I think it’s absurd for Congress to be going on a break during a pandemic and a national crisis,” Khanna added.
The last time the House held votes was July 31, and they will not vote again until around September 14 unless Republicans and Democrats can reach an accord on the pandemic stimulus package, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
“The September schedule will follow the same format as of June and July so that we can conduct our necessary work while protecting public health. The first week of September will be dedicated to committee work, with the House in session for votes the following three weeks,” said Hoyer earlier this week.