President Trump and Congress are no closer to a deal on a deal for a second coronavirus stimulus check and other provisions than they were earlier this week when Senate Republicans revealed the HEALS Act. Time is running out for Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal.
As it stands now, it looks like lawmakers will leave for their August recess without passing any further assistance for the American People.
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Trump on a second coronavirus stimulus check
Trump told Texas ABC affiliate KMID-TV on Wednesday during a trip to the state that he wants the next stimulus package to be "very generous." Trump also suggested that the second coronavirus stimulus check could be more than the $1,200 proposed by both Republicans and Democrats.
"It may go higher than that, actually," he said. "I'd like to see it be very high because I love the people. I want the people to get it."
Trump did not say how much he wants the second coronavirus stimulus check to be. However, he did say that a second round of checks is one of his two top priorities. His other priority is a moratorium on evictions. He added that Congress could handle other issues "later."
Congress is running out of time
In addition to his comment about the second coronavirus stimulus check, Trump also admitted that Democrats and Republicans are "so far apart" on other issues in the next stimulus package. According to NBC News, officials involved in the negotiations said they didn't make any progress on a deal when they got together for the third time this week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke to reporters after meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He said they don't have an agreement on anything. Pelosi told reporters that Democrats won't accept Republicans' "skinny bill," which she believes "does nothing" to address COVID-19.
Schumer and Pelosi are still pushing for the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits to be extended. The extra benefits have expired already because of how states pay out unemployment claims.
Republicans are unlikely to agree to extend the full $600 in weekly benefits because it results in most people getting paid more on unemployment than they did while on the job. The HEALS Act includes an extra $200 in weekly unemployment benefits, but it seems Democrats aren't budging on their push to see an extension of the extra $600.
If lawmakers can't reach a compromise, then they will leave for their August recess having done nothing to help the American people continue to deal with the pandemic. It seems lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are to blame for the lack of a deal.
According to USA Today, some officials are describing the negotiations as a "mess." One official noted that even Republicans can't agree with their own party about what to include in the next stimulus package.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Wednesday before entering another meeting with Democrats that he is "not optimistic" that they would be able to "reach any kind of comprehensive deal." Republicans and Democrats are trillions of dollars apart in what they want for the next stimulus package as the bipartisan spirit that prevailed months ago has evaporated.
A source told USA Today that Pelosi said during a close-door meeting with Mnuchin, Meadows and Schumer that the two bills proposed by Democrats and Republicans "aren't mateable," a reference to the way zoo animals can't mate with other species.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the HEROES Act that was passed by the Democrat-led House of Representatives a "multi-trillion-dollar socialist manifesto," adding that nothing like that bill will ever become law. Pelosi and Schumer called the GOP"s proposal "a sad statement of their values, selling out struggling families at the kitchen table in order to enrich the corporate interests at the board room table."
With the House set to leave for its month-long August recess in a matter of days, it's looking like lawmakers will have nothing to show for their efforts.