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With Congress at a stalemate over the fourth coronavirus stimulus relief package, the White House is reportedly weighing alternative courses of action.
The Trump administration is looking at “a number of options” to respond to the stalled negotiations on Capitol Hill and address the economic impact Americans are feeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior administration official told Fox News on Monday.
“As the negotiations continue to progress as a snail’s pace, the administration is considering a number of options that might be available without congressional legislative action,” the official said.
Unemployment benefits, and specifically the amount to be doled out to those experiencing job losses amid the pandemic, have reportedly been one area of contention between the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“Those that are counting on enhanced unemployment need to be gravely concerned about the lack of progress,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News. “My recommendation would be for them to call their members of Congress and their senators and ask them why they are not willing to compromise when obviously the White House is willing to compromise.”
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) August 3, 2020
Democrats urged the continuation of additional $600 weekly unemployment payments to those without work, while Republican were concerned about the benefits which expired at the end of July. Opponents of continuing the payments argued that some people were collecting more in unemployment benefits than they were when they were working at their jobs, something Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin noted last week
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: “We’re not going to use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home.” pic.twitter.com/4vcOWgcQrj
— The Hill (@thehill) July 25, 2020
“There are two things standing in the way to a deal on enhanced unemployment benefits continuing. One is Sen. [Chuck] Schumer and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and the other is a negotiating tactic that puts people at risk,” Meadows said.
Republican lawmakers were willing to extend the payments another week while negotiations continued but Democrats refused the temporary compromise in a move Meadows slammed as “heartless.” Mnuchin was “surprised” by the Democrats’ move and expressed that President Trump was “very concerned” about the expiring unemployment benefits.
“They are insistent on having this as part of a larger deal,” Mnuchin said of Democrats.
Senate Republicans unveiled the HEALS Act last week which included an extra $200 per week in unemployment benefits. The $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill focused on Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools, was in response to the HEROES Act, the $3 trillion Democrat relief bill that was passed in the House in May.
The GOP bill included another $1,200 stimulus check and a “sequel” to the Paycheck Protection Program which was implemented to stave off employee layoffs. The HEALS Act surpassed the House bill in school funding, offering $105 billion to help with efforts in reopening on-campus learning. Businesses would also be encouraged to reopen as the Republican legislation provides liability protections.
The delay in getting out the new proposal by Senate Republicans was defended by Mnuchin on Sunday, as he told ABC’s “This Week” that GOP lawmakers were concerned over the funds that had already been allotted in previous relief packages.
“We’ve authorized over $3 trillion into the U.S. economy,” he said. “This has never been done in the history of time.”
“We have to balance,” Treasury Sec. Mnuchin says amid partisan stalemate over COVID-19 relief.
“There’s obviously a need to support workers, support the economy … on the other hand, we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amounts of debt.” https://t.co/HNQgCe39RN pic.twitter.com/zFq4jmj2RF
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 2, 2020
“We wanted to wait and see how the money was going to work, and we have to balance,” he said.
“There’s obviously a need to support workers, support the economy, people who through no fault of their own are shut down because of this terrible disease. On the other hand, we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amounts of debt for future generations,” Mnuchin added. “So the president’s determined to spend what we need to spend, and we’re acting very quickly now.”
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