Meadows says benefits to expire as negotiators struggle to get deal
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday that added unemployment benefits will formally expire on Friday as negotiators appear to be struggling to make any progress toward a bipartisan deal.
“Enhanced unemployment insurance provisions will expire,” Meadows told reporters after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Asked if he believed that it would happen now, he added: “I do.”
Under the coronavirus relief package passed in March, Congress agreed to an additional $600-per-week federal benefit for those without a job during the pandemic.
As drafted, the benefit is set to officially expire Friday, but because of the calendar and how most states disperse unemployment benefits they actually began to expire last Saturday.
What to do about unemployment benefits has been a major sticking point for the chances of getting a bipartisan deal.
Democrats want to extend the $600 added benefit through the end of the year. Republicans, meanwhile, are proposing switching to a 70 percent wage replacement match. During the two-month transition to the new system, the federal government would provide a $200 per month federal unemployment benefit.
Some Republicans are pushing to move a stand-alone short-term extension of the unemployment benefits to avoid the Friday cliff.
But Meadows said after the meeting that Pelosi and Schumer have shot down that idea.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about that, but Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer has made it very clear that they’re not going to do that,” Meadows said.
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