Aug. 2 (UPI) — Democrats and Republicans in Congress remain at an impasse with each other and members of the Trump administration as they work to negotiate another round of stimulus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday told ABC News This Week that the sides remain unable to agree on whether $600 unemployment benefits that expired late in July should be extended or reduced to a plan that would lower that total to $200.
“We have been for the $600. They have a $200 proposal, which does not meet the needs of America’s working families,” Pelosi said, after saying that President Donald Trump is standing in the way of the stimulus package being passed.
“It’s a condescension quite, frankly,” she added. “Because they’re saying, ‘They really don’t need it; they’re just staying home because they make more money at $600.’ So the idea that they made a proposal is really not actually factual.”
Pelosi echoed comments made by House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer, saying that Democrats may eventually be willing to adjust the rate of unemployment benefits but said they remained committed to the $600 plan currently.
“The fact is, the amount of money that’s given as an enhancement for unemployment insurance should relate to the rate of unemployment,” she said. “So, as that goes down then you can consider something that is less than the $600, but in this agreement, it’s $600.”
Pelosi also said she did not have faith that an agreement would be reached soon, anticipating Republicans would not support the $600 plan.
“We are unified in support for the $600. They’re in disarray on many of their members in the Senate, Republican members don’t want any addition,” she said. “And we’re saying three things — support our state and local heroes, strategic big plan to end the virus and third put money in the pockets of America’s working families and we do that. And we have other issues related to food that are contentious.”
Also appearing on ABC News, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and Meadows would remain on Capitol Hill “every day until we reach an agreement.”
“We understand there’s a need to compromise,” he said. “But, on the other hand, there’s also a big need to get kids into schools, get people back to jobs and keep the economy open and keep people safe.”
He added that the White House believes there have been Americans who were “overpaid” under the previous unemployment insurance plan and that the administration was seeking to achieve “balance” in a new plan.
“There’s obviously a need to support workers, support the economy, Mnuchin said. “On the other hand, we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amounts of debt.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, however, also expressed doubt that the sides would reach a deal quickly.
“I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” he told CBS News’ Face the Nation.
Meadows also said that Republicans and the White House would be open to a temporary extension of unemployment benefits while negotiating a larger package, an approach Democrats have opposed.
“If we want to extend some of the enhanced unemployment benefits while we negotiate a broader package, I know that Secretary Mnuchin and myself have communicated that to our Democratic colleagues,” he said.