It’s been almost a week since Senate Republicans introduced the HEALS Act. The negotiations to come up with the final package are still ongoing, and things seemed far apart until Saturday. On Saturday lawmakers finally reported some progress on the next round of coronavirus stimulus checks.
Amid rising pressure to come up with help fast, lawmakers reported much-needed progress on the next bill. The $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit officially expired on July 31.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer broke the news of the progress on the next bill. Schumer, who was part of the rare weekend session, said it “was the longest meeting we’ve had and it was more productive than the other meetings.”
“We’re not close yet, but it was a productive discussion — now each side knows where they’re at,” Schumer said, according to the Associated Press.
This will come as a big relief to those waiting for the next round of stimulus checks although Saturday morning, Schumer said they were “not close yet” to a deal.
On Saturday, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Pelosi said the discussions were “productive” but added that “no agreement can be reached yet.”
Pelosi and Schumer suggested that their respective staffs would continue the negotiations on Sunday as well. Pelosi and Schumer would also have discussions with Meadows and Mnuchin on Monday again.
Differences still prevail
However, Meadows sounded less optimistic when talking about the progress on the next round of coronavirus stimulus checks. He warned reporters that there is still a long way to go before a final deal is reached.
“We’re still a long ways apart and I don’t want to suggest that a deal is imminent because it is not. But like with any deal, as you make progress I think it’s important to recognize that you’re making progress,” Meadows said.
Yet, the comments from Pelosi and Schumer are crucial when it comes to progress on the coronavirus stimulus checks. Pelosi and Schumer also sounded more upbeat on Saturday than they have after earlier meetings.
Talks prior to Saturday yielded little progress with each side reporting wide differences. The major sticking points are extending the $600 unemployment benefit, funds for state and local governments, and assistance to renters/homeowners.
The GOP’s HEALS Act does extend the federal unemployment benefit, but only by $200. However, the Trump administration has agreed to extend the $600 in jobless benefit, but only for the short term for now.
Trump on Friday also tweeted in favor of extending the $600 payment. However, Republicans want to trim the jobless benefit so that people don’t make more money in unemployment than by working.