Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said after about three-and-a-half hours of negotiations on Capitol Hill Saturday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that while good progress has been made on the relief bill, the sides remain at an impasse.
“I think it was the most constructive meeting weve had,” Mnuchin told reporters, adding that, “theres still a lot of open issues.” He said the sides agreed on a subset of issues, including on the need to extend enhanced unemployment insurance in some form and on helping the American labor market recover from the pandemic. Mnuchin also said there was “a lot of bipartisan support” for more relief for small businesses.
Prior talks yielded little progress, with Republicans balking at such Democrat demands as aid for state and local governments, food stamp increases, and assistance to renters and homeowners. Republicans have said theyre looking at a package of the order of $1 trillion, while Democrats have pushed for a much bigger $3 trillion bill.
Mnuchin said theres “clearly a desire” on the part of Pelosi and Schumer to do an entire package, while the Republicans and the White House are willing to deal with short-term issues and pass something quickly before reverting to consider a bigger package.
The Treasury Secretary said restoring the $600 supplemental jobless benefit, which lapsed on July 31, is critically important to President Donald Trump. Republicans in the Senate had been fighting to trim back the $600 benefit, saying it should be reduced so as not to provide disincentives for people to get back to work, arguing that if people make more on unemployment than at work, its a form of labor market distortion that disproportionately impacts small businesses. Trump has signaled that, for now, he wants to keep the full $600 enhanced unemployment benefit.
Schumer characterized the negotiations as “the best discussions weve had so far,” but said there is still “a ways to go.” He called the social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis one of the greatest problems facing the nation and stressed the need for a major relief initiative.
“We need to meet those needs in a very very serious way, and just saying, well do halfway doesnt work when people need homes and need jobs and need housing and need help,” he said.
Calling the discussions “productiveRead More From Source