White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Tuesday said that there has been progress on COVID-19 relief talks but said that a broader proposal from Democratic members of Congress is unworkable.
“As we’ve had discussions with Democrats on Capitol Hill, as we’ve continued our discussion with Republican senators, we’re making real progress,” Meadows said in an interview. “I will say as we look at the number of things we actually agree to and the amounts of money allocated to those areas, probably the biggest stumbling block that remains is the amount of money that would go to state and local help.”
Over the weekend, Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) both accused one another of further stalling talks, with Pelosi saying that a bill worth less than $2.2 trillion won’t pass the House or Senate.
Meadows, in the interview, dismissed Democrats’ $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments that have suffered budget shortfalls in the midst of the pandemic.
“It’s not based on facts and it’s not based on reality,” Meadows said of their proposal.
In terms of dollar amounts, the chief of staff said that the Republicans’ proposal could start off at $500 billion. He didn’t elaborate on what it would entail.
“If we can add from that and use that as a foundation, or at least pass that knowing that we will largely agree on that targeted proposal coming from Senate Republicans, let’s go ahead and get what we agree to off the table, passed, signed into law and continue to negotiate on those things that perhaps might separate the two parties,” he said.
On Aug. 28, Pelosi accused the GOP of not being unified.
“The Democrats are unified, but the Republicans are in disarray,” she said, while claiming Senate Republicans have “come down to $500 billion in his proposal and that Mark Meadows is saying that the White House might go to $1.3 trillion.” She added, “Neither of these proposals would meet the needs of American workers and families.”
Both the House and the Senate are expected to reconvene in September. Should a pandemic relief bill be passed, it would likely be in late September or early October before stimulus payments, expanded unemployment payments, and small-business loans are sent out.
The bill is intended to curb potential economic losses incurred during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.