Congress is not expected to return to session until September 8, but when they do, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a very simple message for Republicans: “We are not budging,” she said on the size of the bill Democrats want to pass, Forbes reported.
Pelosi said this during a Thursday (August 27) phone call with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to Forbes. Pelosi and Meadows have been negotiating for several weeks on what the next COVID-19 relief package should look like, but they have failed to come to a consensus on what the size of the package should be and what should be included within it.
Here is the latest update.
It’s Been Three Weeks Since Negotiations Have Seen Progress
With the looming deadline of supplemental unemployment benefits running out, the outlook was fairly optimistic that Pelosi, Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin could make a deal. However, talks quickly broke down on August 7, just a week after the supplemental unemployment benefits expired.
Then on August 8, President Trump signed several memoranda (including one creating a Lost Wages Assistance program to provide $300 to some unemployed workers) and one executive order alleviating some of the urgency on negotiators to come up with a deal. Democrats and Republicans, have been at odds on whether post office and local government funding for more coronavirus testing should be included in the next deal.
Both sides also appear to have become increasingly aggravated, with Pelosi referring to Meadows as, “what’s-his-name” and describing the Republicans’ proposal as “very deficient” and Meadows calling Pelosi’s requests, “a partisan wish list” not based on “real needs.”
When Meadows appeared at the White House on August 22 for an impromptu meeting with Pelosi, she declined to see him; a staff member cited scheduling conflicts and the fact that Meadows had not made an appointment, The Hill reported.
Both Sides Are Arguing Over What to Spend on the Next Stimulus Package
In May, the Democratically-controlled House passed a $3 trillion bill called the HEROES Act, which has since languished on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Later in May, Republicans responded by introducing a bill called the HEALS Act, which would cost around $1 trillion.
Pelosi has demanded that Republicans meet in the middle and settle for $2.2 trillion in spending, Forbes reported. “We have said again and again that we are willing to come down [and] meet them in the middle,” Pelosi said. “That would be $2.2 trillion. When they’re ready to do that, we’ll be ready to discuss and negotiate. I did not get that impression on that call.”
However, the most Republicans have increased their original demand of $1.1 trillion or less in spending is when Meadows announced, “The president right now is willing to sign something at $1.3 trillion,” according to The Hill.
Pelosi has said that is not enough, slamming Republicans in a letter, parts of which were quoted in The Hill:
Over a month ago, House and Senate Democrats said that we would be willing to cut a trillion dollars from the Heroes Act if the White House would add one trillion to the Senate bill. In consultation with our Committees Chairs, we have now said we would be willing to go down to $2.2 trillion. These investments are needed both to save lives and to boost the economy.
The Democrats are unified, but the Republicans are in disarray. Press reports are stating that Mitch McConnell has come down to $500 billion in his proposal and that Mark Meadows is saying that the White House might go to $1.3 trillion. Neither of these proposals would meet the needs of American workers and families.
As children return to schools, I have great concern over the Republicans’ refusal to acknowledge the funding levels that experts and scientists tell us are needed for safe school reopening. They are also rejecting the funding needed for 14 million hungry children in America and rejecting funding for children’s families for rental assistance when millions are at risk of eviction and homelessness.
Their contempt for state, local, tribal and territorial governments endangers health care workers, first responders and other frontline workers, in addition to teachers. Support for teachers and education are essential for the children. But Mitch McConnell has said that states should just go bankrupt.
Now that both political conventions are over, there’s a chance a deal might be made.
However, even if that is the case, the longer the two stay at an impasse, the longer it will take any checks authorized by Congress to reach Americans. CNET estimated that even if both sides come to an agrement and pass a bill by September 9, checks will most likely not go out until September 21.