Second coronavirus stimulus: Lawmakers offer differing views on aid package’s progress

Politics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, speaks as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. Schumer and Pelosi met earlier with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as they continue to negotiate a coronavirus relief package. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (News Nation) — As of last week, about 30 million people in the U.S. were collecting jobless benefits. Meanwhile, leaders on Capitol Hill are still debating a second coronavirus relief package.

So how long do lawmakers think they’ll be in talks before a deal gets reached? It depends on who you ask.

Following a day of talks with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said both sides are moving in the right direction.

“There is a desire to get something done as soon as we can,” Schumer said. “We’re making some progress on certain issues, moving closer together.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there are still policy differences holding up a deal.

“Much of our discussion has to be on how we defeat the virus. And that takes dollars and policy,” Pelosi said. “We can open our economy, we can open our schools. But we can only do it if our children and our families are safe.”

Mnuchin and Meadows did not speak with reporters after the meeting.

But Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats’ insisting on a comprehensive $3 trillion package — or nothing — is blocking progress.

“These are not the tactics that will get more cash into Americans pockets, more help to the unemployed, more assistance for schools,” said McConnell.

Multiple obstacles remain, including an impasse so far on extending a $600-per-week pandemic jobless benefit, funding for the Postal Service and aid to renters facing eviction. 

President Donald Trump added another potential obstacle to a possible deal Monday, saying he may bypass Congress and push stimulus measures through executive action.

“They want to bail out cities and states. They want bailout money. They want $1 trillion in bailout money,” Trump said during a meeting Monday with U.S. tech workers where he signed an executive order on hiring American. “I’ll do it myself if I have to. I have a lot of power with respect to executive order. We’re looking at that very seriously.”

However, many of the spending measures both sides proposed would require congressional approval.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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