Congress and the White House are working overtime to come up with a bipartisan stimulus deal by the weekend.
Over the past few weeks, negotiations over another round of coronavirus stimulus have come to a standstill. The stalemate continues as Democrats and Republicans struggle to compromise over spending issues. Several points of contention have emerged over the course of the talks. However, the expanded $600-per-month unemployment benefit appears to be the most controversial. Despite the deep divide, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is hoping for a timely compromise. “We’re going to try to reach an overall agreement, if we can get one, by the end of this week,” Mnuchin told Fox News on Tuesday.
President Trump Weighs In
Difference Between Democrats, Republicans Unemployment Benefit Plans Is $1,600 Per Month https://t.co/rkeg6k5HoJ
— CBSDFW (@CBSDFW) August 4, 2020
President Donald Trump also weighed in on the negotiation efforts at a press conference on Wednesday. The president said he is willing to take executive action on a handful of key issues if Congress can’t come to a compromise. Trump said his administration is exploring options for bypassing Congress. With this, he hopes that it could immediately enact a number of key policies. Some of these policies include a continuation of the moratorium on evictions, an extension of expanded unemployment benefits, and a payroll tax suspension.
“We’re looking at it,” Trump said in reference to an executive order extending the expanded unemployment benefits. “We are looking at various other things I’m allowed to do under the system,” he added. The president said he believes the talks are “going well,” however. Additionally, he hopes he can avoid issuing executive orders to resolve the impasse.
Despite the White House pressure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking a harder line on the Democratic wish list. He has been highly critical of Democrats’ efforts to add billions of dollars in unnecessary spending. “The Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader are continuing to say ‘our way or the highway’ with a massive wish list for left-wing lobbyists that was slapped together a few weeks ago called a coronavirus bill,” McConnell said.
Earlier in the week, President Trump seemed to agree with McConnell’s take and issued a stinging rebuke of the Democratic approach to negotiations. “They want to bail out cities and states that have been in trouble for years of bad management,” Trump said. “In all cases Democrat-run cities, and we don’t think that’s fair.” However, the president softened his tone later in the week and seems more willing to make a deal.
A Deal by the End of the Week?
If we'd had the $600-per-month unemployment benefit in the Great Recession, extending it would have reduced inequality 12% less than spending the same amount on universal payments. Universal payments also cut poverty more.
— UBI Center (@TheUBICenter) August 7, 2020
Democrats are also hopeful to reach a deal by the end of the week. “We are really getting an understanding of each side’s position. And we’re making some progress on certain issues moving closer together,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “There are a lot of issues that are still outstanding. But I think there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can.”
According to an unnamed Democratic aide cited by Fox News, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told her Democratic colleagues earlier in the week that she felt hopeful for an agreement by the end of the week. However, she also said she didn’t know if that would ultimately be possible.
Despite the general spirit of cooperation, several issues remain that could derail the talks and there’s no guarantee the issues can be resolved by the weekend. Trump is thinking about the election, so he is eager to make a deal. However, Republicans shouldn’t give in to unreasonable demands just to have something done. Democrats have been trying to pump the stimulus bill with extra funds for poorly managed liberal cities since the outbreak began and, with the country largely emerged from the pandemic crisis, now is not the time to give in.