Negotiators are having discussions daily to develop a consensus on the next coronavirus relief package. Despite agreeing to a timeline (for this week), it seems the coronavirus stimulus check talks could end up in failure. The two sides – Democrats and Republicans – are still far apart and have major differences.
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Everyone was hoping for some positive news following a marathon meeting Thursday night. The meeting, however, saw little progress and a lot of blaming from negotiators.
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin admitted differences between the two sides on a “handful of very big issues.” Mnuchin noted a split over aid to states and local governments and federal unemployment benefits.
Both sides acknowledged uncertainty over coronavirus stimulus check talks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was looking optimistic on forging the deal this week, gave a pessimistic update.
“We’re very far apart. It’s most unfortunate,” she said.
Republicans blame Pelosi and Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of adopting a hard line in the talks. Both are firm on extending the $600 federal unemployment benefit, want child care assistance, as well as food stamps and assistance to renters and homeowners.
“Don’t nickel and dime our children,” Pelosi said. “Don’t say ‘we want to give a tax break to a business lunch and not give more money for children to have food stamps.’”
Pelosi’s hard line approach in negotiations could be because the overall political and legislative landscape has now tilted in favor of the Democrats, who want a massive stimulus package.
“We believe the patient needs a major operation while Republicans want to apply just a Band-Aid,” Schumer said.
Republicans blame Pelosi for slow progress
There is a divide among Republicans over the need of another stimulus bill. Many against another relief bill argue that four coronavirus response bills worth about $3 trillion have already been passed, and another bill would only add to the already high national debt.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently slammed Pelosi for holding up the coronavirus stimulus check talks, complained again on Thursday.
“Day after day, they’ve stonewalled the president’s team. Day by day, they’ve tried to invent new euphemisms to create the illusion of progress,” McConnell said.
Trump and McConnell want the next relief package. They even discussed the same at the White House Thursday morning. Trump, previously, has hinted that he may use an executive order to come up with needed provisions, such as evictions and jobless benefits.
“I don’t think they know what they’re talking about,” Pelosi said Thursday morning.
For the coronavirus stimulus check talks to succeed, it seems, Pelosi would have to make some concessions. Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, however, notes she won’t let the “negotiations to collapse”
“She knows what the right moment is to pull the trigger and to try and close the deal,” said Elmendorf. “But she also knows when to wait and to let the other side come to you.”