Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both described talks with White House officials and members of the other party as mostly stalled on a pandemic relief package, meaning it’s even more likely that key federal programs will expire by the end of July.
“Either our Democratic colleagues come to the table or the American people won’t get the help they need,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate on Thursday. “The House Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] moves the goalposts while the Democratic leader [Sen. Chuck Schumer] hides the football. They won’t engage when the administration tries to discuss our comprehensive plan. They won’t engage when the administration floats a narrower proposal.”
“They basically won’t engage, period,” he alleged.
And Schumer, speaking next on the floor, again highlighted perceived divisions in the GOP for the reason why the package is stalled.
“Who’s holding things up? Who’s standing in the way? Leader McConnell and his Republican caucus [are] certainly at the top of the list,” the New York Democrat said, adding, “It’s clear that Senate Republicans don’t have a unified position on anything.”
Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Wednesday that the two parties aren’t close to coming up with a deal.
“It means enhanced unemployment insurance provisions will expire,” he stressed, referring to the federal $600-per-week program for people receiving unemployment benefits. It means that unemployed Americans will receive much smaller checks starting next week.
The GOP released its HEALS Act, which would pay $200 per week extra on top of state benefits for unemployment recipients. Democrats have said the payment isn’t enough, while their HEROES Act—passed in May—would continue the $600 per week until January 2021.
President Donald Trump, however, has suggested a temporary extension of the unemployment benefits to keep negotiations going.
Asked about it on Tuesday, Trump said told reporters: “We’ll do something. We’re going to take care of the people.”
Trump also suggested Wednesday that payments larger than $1,200 should be sent out to people.
“It may go higher than that, actually,” Trump told ABC affiliate station KMID in Texas. “I’d like to see it be very high because I love the people,” he said. “I want the people to get it.”
The HEROES, HEALS, and CARES acts were designed with the intention of offsetting economic losses suffered during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, which triggered a significant amount of job losses.