On Sunday, top officials in the Trump administration proposed potentially short-circuiting free-ranging stimulus talks with Democrats. This was to rush through a much narrower bill prioritizing an extension of federal unemployment benefits. Those benefits should expire this week for millions of Americans.
Mark Meadows is the White House chief of staff. He said that that he would now like to see lawmakers act this week. The act will extend and alter the unemployment program. Moreover, Meadows wants to see it giving tax credits to businesses to help in easing reopening costs and grant employer’s new liability protections. Meanwhile, he wants to set aside a long list of other objectives, including the priorities of Democrats.
On ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Meadows said that they will perhaps put that forward, get that passed, as they can negotiate on the rest of the bill in the week to come.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin echoed the proposal in his own Sunday morning interview. This was a last-ditch effort by Republicans to prevent the program from lapsing. This is because signs mounted that the economy of the nation was once again weakening during a resurgence of coronavirus cases. Nevertheless, they prepared for rolling out their successful, more comprehensive relief legislation on Monday. Thus, this amounted to a concession that Republicans, slowed by their internal division, were unlikely to reach a deal on a package of complete relief with Democrats before millions start losing a $600-a-week-benefit that has helped contain the economic carnage.
Republicans and Democrats
A small fix is almost certainly dead on arrival, with Democrats already on record in opposition to a piecemeal approach. The suggestion for the Democrats’ proposal of Sunday may, in part, be a negotiating tactic laying the background to blame the opposition party when the funds ultimately expire. Moreover, Democrats know that very well.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation” that they have been anxious to negotiate for two months and ten days. Furthermore, she said that Congress could not leave town for its annual August recess. It was until a deal was struck, and Pelosi noted that they spend the weekend waiting to hear from the other party and begin talks.
Ms. Pelosi added that it is an emergency. Nevertheless, she said, there is a chance that they do not understand it. She does not know what they have against working families of America to keep this going so long.
The two sides have quite different views concerning how to handle even the narrow set of issues identified by the White House. Republicans propose to alter the jobless benefits program to replace the $600 flat weekly payments with a plan that will return around 70 percent of a worker’s lost wage. This is intended to be a change that Democrats will not endorse. Democrats are actively opposing the efforts of Republicans. Their efforts would conclude in giving many employers new protections from lawsuits from their students, workers, or patients.
White House and Senate Republicans were struggling to come to terms with their own $1 trillion proposals. Moreover, this was even before engaging with Democrats.