Legislators reported on Saturday the progress of a huge coronavirus relief bill, as political pressures have grown to restore the expired supplementary unemployment benefit of $600 a week and provide funds to help schools reopen.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Ducky DNY) said: “This is the longest meeting we have held, and it is more productive than other meetings.” “We are not over yet, but this is a fruitful discussion-now Both sides know where they are.”
After three hours of meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Daniel D .Calif) talk together.
Democratic leaders are eager to reach a broad agreement, as do top Republicans such as President Donald Trump and the majority leader of the Kentucky Senate Mitch McConnell. However, perhaps half of Senate Republicans, mostly conservatives, and those who did not face a difficult campaign this fall, may oppose any agreement.
Previous negotiations have made little progress, and Saturday’s cautious optimism is different from the gloomy private assessment of Republican negotiators. The government is willing to expand the newly expiring $600 unemployment benefit at least in the short term, but it is hesitant to demand other Democrats, such as assistance to state and local governments, increased food stamps, and assistance to tenants and homeowners.
Pelosi mentioned food aid and funding for voting by mail after the negotiations. She and Schumer’s mood is more optimistic than the earlier meeting.
Pelosi said: “We must eliminate this virus so that we can open our economy, open our schools safely, and do so in a way that does not harm the interests of American workers.”
Mnuchin said that the restoration of the $600 supplementary unemployment benefit is vital to Trump.
Meadows then said: “There is still a long way to go between us, and I don’t want to imply a deal that is about to be concluded because it has not been reached.” “There are still substantial differences, but we have indeed made good progress. “
The additional unemployment benefits officially expired on Friday, and the Democrats have made it clear that they will not expand unemployment benefits if other relief priorities are not ensured. No matter what the negotiators of unemployment assistance agree, it will take effect retroactively, but it may take weeks for the old national system to restore benefits.
Republicans in the Senate have been trying to cut benefits by $600, saying that benefits must be cut drastically so that the unemployment rate does not exceed the return to work. But as the earnings expired, their determination weakened, and Trump suddenly signaled that he wanted to keep all of the $600, which suddenly weakened their position.
On Friday, Trump used Twitter to make it clear that he agreed to extend the $600 payment and criticized Schumer.
The highest authority in Washington agreed that Congress must pass further relief in the coming days and weeks. The problem with unemployment benefits of more than $600 a week is the direct new payment of $1,200 to most Americans, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in other assistance to states, businesses, and the poor, among other factors.
The Democrats have strong bargaining power in taking advantage of the division of the Republican Party, and people are expected to get the necessary votes.
The COVID package will be the fifth legislative response to the pandemic and is likely to be the last response before the November election. The only other legislation on the agenda that must be passed is expedient spending measures, which should be proposed in September.
Since May, Republicans who control the Senate have been negotiating relief on the “suspend” issue in order to lower their price tag strategy. However, as the pandemic renewed throughout the summer and the breakup within the Republican Party eroded the party’s negotiating position, Republicans showed greater flexibility.
Even if there are signs of progress in the negotiations, the list of negotiation items is still daunting.
McConnell’s must-have item is a responsibility shield to avoid re-launched lawsuits against businesses, schools and charities due to the pandemic. The Republican Party’s business allies are strong supporters, but the country’s trial lawyers still have considerable influence in the opposition. The compromise can be a challenging but essential part of the final transaction.
One of the Democratic Party’s priorities is to increase food stamp revenue. The Republicans added $20 billion to agribusiness, but their $1 trillion proposal did not increase food stamp revenue. Meadows played a role in curbing the increase in food aid during negotiations on a $2 trillion relief bill in March, but Pelosi seemed determined. Many economists say that in addition to eliminating growing poverty, the increase in food stamps also immediately injected demand into the economy.
Pelosi first mentioned food aid in a letter to fellow Democrats and informed them of the progress.
“Due to the critical situation, this is a very different negotiation. Pelosi said: “Millions of children are food insecure, and millions of families are at risk of being deported. For the nineteenth consecutive week, more than one million Americans have applied for unemployment insurance. “