Democratic and Republican leaders seemingly attempted to revive coronavirus relief-package talks on Wednesday, a discussion that remained unfruitful and prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to characterize the nature of the meeting in such a way that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said was not an accurate portrayal of what happened during the conversation.
In a joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the two Democratic leaders accused the Trump administration of failing to understand the nature of the problem, and refusing to budge on the “size and scope” of the package.
“Democrats have compromised. Repeatedly, we have made clear to the Trump administration that we are willing to come down $1 trillion if they will come up $1 trillion,” said Pelosi and Schumer.
“We have again made clear to the administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously. The lives and livelihoods of the American people, as well as the life of our democracy are at stake,” said the duo.
Mnuchin fired back with his own statement, in which he concluded that the Democrats weren’t interested in pursuing negotiations on a package.
“Earlier today, Speaker Pelosi and I spoke by phone. Her statement is not an accurate reflection of our conversation. She made clear that she was unwilling to meet to continue negotiations unless we agreed in advance to her proposal, costing at least $2 trillion,” said the treasury secretary.
“The Administration is willing to move forward with legislation that allows for substantial funds for schools, child care, food, vaccines, hospitals, PPP for small businesses, rental assistance, broadband, airports, state and local government assistance, and liability protection for universities, schools, and businesses,” he said.
The renewed attempt at legislation comes after President Donald Trump took four executive actions over the weekend, one of which would help to extend the unemployment insurance boost — which expired July 31 — at $400 per week and 75% federal funding. The remaining funds would need to be provided by individual states.
A separate executive action allowed for the creation of a payroll tax holiday, which the president suggested could become permanent should he win re-election. Another order was designed to provide relief to people who have federal student loans by extending the current 0% interest rate and halting payments.
Although the executive actions were more narrow in scope than the potential coronavirus relief bill — the GOP proposal was $1 trillion and the Democratic bill was over $3 trillion — Trump has since said that no package will be making its way through Congress anytime soon.
“The bill’s not going to happen because they don’t even want to talk about it, because we can’t give them the kind of ridiculous things that they want,” said Trump during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday.
“It has nothing to do with China Virus, much of what they’re asking for,” he added.
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