With Congress nearing the end of the second week of negotiations for the next stimulus package without reaching an agreement, Democrats are blaming the delay on President Trump and his party.
“There is no leadership from the president,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said at a press conference on Thursday. “He says one thing one day, another thing another day, and another thing another day. He's not focused on this, no leadership.”
Schumer added that Republicans “don't seem to see the gravity of the situation” while the president “just dithers.”
The remarks came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he’s “prepared to support” a deal between the president and Democrats, essentially removing the GOP from the center of the negotiations.
The disagreements between the two parties are about the overall funding for the bill — the Democrats’ HEROES Act is worth $3 trillion while the GOP’s main proposal is worth $1 trillion — as well as some of the stimulus provisions involving additional unemployment benefits, the inclusion of a liability protection for business and schools, an extension of a federal eviction moratorium, and more.
“They’d like to get away with passing the skinniest, most minimal bill possible and go home and wash their hands of it,” Schumer said. “We can’t do that because it will leave Americans hurting and not get us out of the crisis.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who along with Schumer has been negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, said there’s been tepid progress.
“We’re not there yet,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on Thursday. “I see a light at the end of the tunnel. We just don’t know how long the tunnel is.”
An executive order on unemployment benefits
Over 30 million unemployed Americans are seeing a lapse in receiving their unemployment benefits while Congress struggles to find common ground on the benefits extension provision and the overall package.
As Democrats continue negotiating for a full extension of the weekly $600, Republicans have floated three different proposals of the extension. Each one proposes cutting the $600 and suggests using a model in which the benefits will be calculated based on a worker’s previous wages, which experts warn may take months to implement.
“If you’re looking for total consensus among Republican senators, you’re not gonna find it,” McConnell said on Tuesday when asked on what the future of the extra unemployment benefits should be. “We do have divisions about what to do.”
Until a deal is reached, Republicans have suggested a short-term unemployment benefits extension but Democrats have turned down that option.
“At the president’s direction, we have made no less than four different offers to Democrats,” Meadows said last week. “They've not even countered with a proposal.”
The president has also been looking at extending the benefits through an executive order, although some people, including White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow, have stated he doesn’t have the power to do so.
“I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options,” Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.