WASHINGTON (News Nation) — Americans counting on emergency coronavirus aid from Washington may have to wait until fall.
Negotiations over a new virus relief package have all but ended, with the White House and congressional leaders disagreeing on the size, scope and approach for shoring up households, re-opening schools and launching a national strategy to contain the virus.
President Donald Trump’s top negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, tried to revive stalled talks Wednesday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Trump administration is still refusing to meet them halfway. Congressional Republicans are largely sitting out the talks.
“The White House is not budging,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement.
In a statement Mnuchin countered that “the Democrats have no interest in negotiating.”
Mnuchin said Pelosi’s statement was “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.”
With the House and Senate essentially closed, and lawmakers on call to return with 24-hours notice, hopes for a swift compromise have dwindled.
All indications are talks will not resume in full until Congress resumes in September.
For Americans, that means the end of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that recently expired and a federal ban on evictions.
Trump’s executive actions attempt to provide a temporary reprieve, offering $300 in jobless benefits and some other aid but it could take weeks for those programs to ramp up.
Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows briefed GOP senators privately on Wednesday. But congressional Republicans, who have left the negotiating largely to Democrats, seem satisfied there is enough money still available from previous aid packages, for now.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put in motion the procedural steps to recess, possibly Thursday. The House is already gone.
Democrats are trying to push the White House to go bold. They want to maintain the $600 jobless benefit and provide nearly $1 trillion to the states and cities, nonstarters for the White House.
While there is some common ground over $100 billion for schools and new funds for virus testing, Democrats also want other emergency funds that Trump rejects, including to shore up the U.S. Postal Service and election security ahead of the November election.
Lisa Mascaro reporting for the Associated Press. AP’s Aamer Madhani contributing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.