The federal unemployment benefit of $600 per week officially expired on July 31. With coronavirus cases spiking again and unemployment numbers nowhere near the comfort zone, there is an urgent need for the next coronavirus stimulus bill even if checks for the broader population. Lawmakers are still far apart on what should be included in the next bill. However, if a recent report is anything to go by, then the White House could leave out Senate Republicans to strike a coronavirus stimulus deal with the Democrats.
Can Trump strike a coronavirus stimulus checks deal with Democrats?
Citing two people familiar with White House planning, The Washington Post reports that White House officials have hinted at signing a deal with no liability protection.
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Liability protection is one thing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants in the next stimulus bill. On several occasions, McConnell has reiterated that no bill will pass the Senate if it doesn’t include liability protection.
“No bill will be put on the Senate floor that does not have liability protections," McConnell told reporters this week.
Previously, the White House has also said that liability protection is a top priority for the next coronavirus stimulus deal. However, if this report is true, it would put the White House at odds with McConnell.
At a press briefing on Friday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also suggested that the White House is open to signing a coronavirus stimulus checks deal that does not include liability protection.
“That's a question for Mitch McConnell... that's his priority,” she said, when asked if the Trump administration is adamant on including liability protection. "This president is very keenly focused on unemployment insurance.”
McEnany’s comments do indicate differences between the White House and Senate Republicans over the provisions of the next coronavirus stimulus package.
Democrats against liability protection
Democrats have opposed liability protection. Earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that liability protection would make businesses and employers less responsible for the safety of their workplace.
Pelosi told CBS News that Republicans want essential workers to go out and work, but they have placed “no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe'" and “if you get sick, you have no recourse because we've given the employer protection.'"
A couple of days ago, Trump expressed dissatisfaction with Senate Republicans' HEALS Act as well. Calling it "semi-irrelevant," Trump told reporters that the two parties are "so far apart" on the final bill.
Talking about his priorities for the coronavirus stimulus deal, Trump said, “We want to work on the evictions so that people don’t get evicted. We’ll work on the payments for the people.”
It has been reported that the White House even offered a short-term extension of the federal unemployment benefit until a final coronavirus stimulus checks deal is approved. However, Democrats blocked the effort. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer termed the move a political stunt.