Negotiations on stimulus package collapse on Capitol Hill, Trump to sign executive orders
Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer say the White House declined to spend $2 trillion on a fourth stimulus bill but they will continue to press the issue
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Capitol Hill negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats on another coronavirus stimulus package collapsed Friday, which is expected to result in President Trump signing executive orders on home evictions and student loan debt.
“Unfortunately we did not make any progress today," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a key negotiator who also said the president is now likely to issue the executive orders.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said: “This is not a perfect answer. We’ll be the first ones to say that, but it is all that we can do, and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power.”
The breakdown Friday follows weeks of negotiations after enhanced jobless benefits in the last stimulus package expired July 31.
“It was a disappointing meeting,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a top negotiator with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.
Earlier in the day, Pelosi said that Democratic leaders would come "down a trillion" if the White House and Senate GOP come "up a trillion" with the fourth stimulus package.
Pelosi explained that Democrats asked for the White House and Mnuchin to spend $1 trillion more above their original $1 trillion stimulus proposal but the request was rejected.
Schumer, prior to Friday's failed meeting, said Mnuchin and Meadows "totally" rejected the compromise offer.
The White House is at roughly $1 trillion, while the Democrat-led House's HEROES Act is projected at $3.4 trillion to $3.7 trillion.
"You have to meet in the middle," Schumer said.
The Republicans' stimulus proposal includes a federal unemployment extension lower than the original $600 weekly payment and does not include the $1 trillion in state and local funding that's in the HEROES Act.
Friday’s session followed a combative meeting on Thursday that, for the first time, cast real doubt on the ability of the Trump administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill to come together on another coronavirus response bill, according to the Associated Press.
The breakdown in the talks puts at risk more than $100 billion to help reopen schools, a fresh round of $1,200 direct payments to most people and hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments to help them avoid furloughing workers and cutting services as tax revenues shrivel.
Mnuchin also said that renewal of a $600 per-week pandemic jobless boost and huge demands by Democrats for aid to state and local governments are the key areas where they are stuck.
“There’s a lot of areas of compromise,” he said after Friday’s meeting. “I think if we can reach an agreement on state and local and unemployment, we will reach an overall deal. And if we can’t we can’t.”
Pelosi declared the talks all but dead until Meadows and Mnuchin give ground.
“I’ve told them ‘come back when you are ready to give us a higher number,’” she said.