President Donald Trump said the White House, Democrats, and Republicans are divided on passing a COVID-19 relief package.
“We ought to work on the evictions so that people don’t get evicted, to work on the payments to the people, and the rest of it,” Trump said at the White House on July 28. “We’re so far apart, we don’t care.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, told reporters that the two sides should work on a short-term deal.
Trump says there are provisions in the GOP package unveiled a day earlier that he doesn’t support, he told reporters on July 28.
“Yeah, there are, actually,” he said. “And we’ll be talking about it. There are also things that I very much support. But we’ll be negotiating. It’s sort of semi-irrelevant because the Democrats come with their needs and asks, and the Republicans go with theirs.”
Trump said he will discuss the matter with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other congressional leaders.
One point of contention among the White House and Senate Republicans is a payroll tax cut wanted by Trump.
McConnell referred to the GOP bill, dubbed the HEALS Act, a starting point for negotiations, an assertion reiterated by Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on July 27.
“This legislation serves as a starting point for bipartisan negotiations,” Grassley said on the floor of the Senate. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to not let partisan differences derail progress.”
Democratic leaders criticized the delays and measures in the GOP plan. Members of Congress took a nearly three-week break in July.
“Republicans dithered for 3 months while Democrats pleaded for action on COVID,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter on July 28. “And now that Republicans finally have a proposal, it’s corporate-focused, doesn’t meet the needs of the American people, and half of their own caucus probably won’t support it anyway!”
McConnell, however, has said that the Democrat-passed HEROES Act, which is $3 trillion, contains too many unneeded provisions; he’s also called it’s tantamount to a “socialist manifesto.”
Democrats said they want an extension of the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits, while Republicans have opted to lower that number to $200 per week. What’s more, the HEALS Act doesn’t include any funding to state or local governments, while Democrats have proposed $1 trillion under the HEROES Act.
It appears, however, that both parties agree on sending out another round of $1,200 checks and payments to Americans.
Trump, in remarks on July 28, said he’s optimistic about a deal among all the parties involved.
“All of the people involved, [Treasury Secretary] Steve Mnuchin’s done a great job, keeps everybody together, both Democrat and Republican,” Trump said. “We want to do what’s best for the people. I want to do what’s best for the people. I want to do what’s best for the economy because that means jobs and lots of good things.”