White House Rejects $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package as Self-Inflicted Deadline Approaches
One week after the $600 per week pandemic unemployment insurance benefits expired leaving 30 million Americans in financial purgatory, the White House has rejected a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package proposed by congressional Democrats.
At a press conference on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she offered to knock a trillion dollars off the price of the HEROES Act – a $3.4 trillion dollar bill passed by the House in May that has sat on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) desk for nearly three months – if Republicans agree to add a trillion dollars to their plan.
But the White House’s negotiators – Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin – refused to budge.
“‘We’ll take down a trillion if you add a trillion in.’ They said absolutely not,” Pelosi said, flanked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The reductions would be achieved by implementing shorter-term extensions to government aid programs.
“I will once again make the offer: We’ll come down a trillion, you go up a trillion, and then we’ll be within range of each other,” Pelosi said. “But again, this a very different set of values across the table.”‘
Talks resumed on Friday afternoon, and Pelosi and Schumer stood firm.
Unfortunately for millions of panicked Americans, however, Mnuchin torpedoed Pelosi’s offer, calling it a “non-starter.” Meadows concurred.
“I don’t know that that’s a reduction as much as she’s just changing the time frames,” he said. “So I don’t think that she’s come off of her number other than just making it shorter.”
Schumer described Friday’s meeting as “disappointing.”
“It was a disappointing meeting. We reiterated in very strong terms our offer. We come down a trillion from our top number which was 3.4 [trillion]. They go up a trillion, from their top number which was 1 [trillion], and that way, we could begin to meet in the middle. Unfortunately, they rejected it,” Schumer said. “We’re hopeful that they will think about it and come back and tell us they’re willing to meet us halfway.”
Talks have slogged along for weeks, largely due to Republican concerns over government spending (concerns that were nowhere to be found when President Donald Trump signed a $1,500,000,000 tax cut – the eighth largest in history with no plan to pay for it – that only helped the rich).
Since a deal was not reached, Trump is threatening to take executive action to fast-track an extension of unemployment benefits, student loan payments, eviction moratoriums, and a payroll tax cut.
Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2020
Leaders in both parties oppose a payroll tax cut because it would not help people who are out of work.