GOP, Democrats 'very far apart' on COVID-19 relief package

Friday, 31 Jul, 2020

Schumer continued his daily fusillade against McConnell and Republicans controlling the Senate, noting that McConnell "refuses to go in the room" and join the talks in person, instead transferring ownership of the talks to Meadows, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been a key architect of previous accords. Advertisement Republicans have been pushing to slash the emergency benefit down to $200 a week, claiming the larger figure has discouraged recipients from returning to work during the height of a pandemic.

The virus toll continued to mount in the USA, with 4.4 million confirmed cases and deaths passing 150,000.

But McConnell acknowledged the limits with Republicans split: "We've done the best we can".

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were due to resume negotiations with the two top Democrats in Congress: House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "However, after he was sworn in as President - and became ineligible as a federal employee to obtain the property - he reportedly became "dead opposed" to the government selling the property, which would have allowed commercial developers to compete directly with the Trump Hotel", the Democrats wrote in their October 2018 letter to General Services Administrator Emily Murphy.

"What the leader (McConnell) said today sounded like a person who had no interest in having an agreement", she told reporters, referring to his remarks at a press briefing earlier.

They also heard an earful during a private GOP lunch.

Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican and top ally to agriculture producers, said the matter of "germaneness" is in the eye of the beholder.

Democrats proposed almost $1 trillion for the local governments, but Trump and Republicans are resisting sending the states and cities more cash.

"There's no consensus on anything", said Sen. "And we have to try to get an outcome".

By day's end, Meadows acknowledged that talks are not "getting closer".

The two administration officials are scheduled to be back at the Capitol later Wednesday.

McConnell has touted the smaller price tag of the Republican package relative to the $3 trillion Democratic proposal as a sign of fiscal prudence.

For school reopenings, Democrats want four times the $105 billion that Republicans propose. A federal moratorium that prevented evictions ended last Friday, leaving untold numbers of Americans at risk of losing their homes.

Pelosi has rejected McConnell's push for shielding businesses, schools and other organizations against litigation stemming from coronavirus cases as proposed. Critics point out state unemployment offices have already been overwhelmed. Democrats proposed almost $1 trillion to avert municipal layoffs, but Republicans prefer providing them with flexibility in previously approved aid. So, we have to sit down with the Democrats and work out something.

Republicans, beset by delays and infighting, signaled a willingness to swiftly approve a modest package to revamp a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that's running out.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, cosponsored the legislation with Romney, and said it is a reasonable compromise.

"You put a bill on the floor and let everybody have a vote, we each have one vote, and let us be senators", Kennedy said. In fact, if anything, I think they're more entrenched now than they were you know even a week ago.