While the White House and Congressional Republicans work towards a temporary extension of lapsing unemployment benefits, Democrats continue to reject the stopgap measures according to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
"At the president’s direction, we have made no less than four different offers" on unemployment insurance as well as a moratorium on evictions, Meadows said at a Friday White House briefing reported by Bloomberg. "They’ve not even been countered with a proposal."
.@MarkMeadows reveals that @SenSchumer and @SpeakerPelosi refused 4 proposals to extend unemployment benefits & eviction protection.— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) July 31, 2020
"The Democrats believe that they have all the cards on their side ... willing to play those cards at the expense of those that are hurting." pic.twitter.com/MsbhG2Qatb
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that negotiations with Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will continue, but that there can be no stopgap measures without significant progress on an overall package.
"The Republicans said they wanted to take a pause. Well, the virus didn’t," said Pelosi at her own Friday briefing - which she conveniently held at the same time as Meadows was speaking. "Clearly they, and perhaps the White House, do not understand the gravity of the situation."
The most pressing issue in the talks now is extra federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week that run dry as of Friday, leaving millions of out-of-work Americans without an additional safety net at a time when the jobs market is still staggering.
Republicans want to cut the benefit in the next stimulus package to a portion of lost wages. In an attempt to prevent a lapse in benefits, Republicans including Trump are pressuring Democrats to go along with a stopgap extension of the expanded unemployment benefit as well as a moratorium on evictions while talks continue on a more comprehensive virus relief bill. Meadows said Thursday that the White House was flexible on the amount of the extension. -Bloomberg
Still, Pelosi insisted after Thursday's negotiations that a stopgap extension of federal benefits would be "worthless" unless an agreement is near on a larger package.
At present, the GOP stimulus plan sits at around $1 trillion, while House Democrats are angling for a $3.5 trillion package that would allocate funds for states and local governments struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.