White House warns there’s likely no deal with no agreement by Friday
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to put a time limit on talks to reach a new deal on a congressional coronavirus relief package on Wednesday, saying if negotiators can’t reach an agreement by Friday, they likely won’t be able to do a deal.
“I think at this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle or I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday,” Meadows said.
“We’ve been spending so much time together that if you’re not making progress, there’s no sense to continue,” he added.
Meadows’s comments came after he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin briefed Senate Republicans on the state of play during a closed-door lunch. Negotiators have given themselves an end-of-the-week deadline for an agreement in principle on the fifth coronavirus relief package.
The comments from Meadows could be an effort to try to put pressure on the sides to compromise. Regardless, the self-imposed deadline appears to be a tall order.
Negotiators are far apart on key sticking points such as unemployment insurance and have not yet agreed to even the price tag for a bill. House Democrats approved a $3 trillion package in the spring, but Republicans want to limit the measure to $1 trillion, pointing to the deficit.
The two sides are under enormous pressure to get a deal. An increase in unemployment benefits has expired as millions of Americans remain out of work. A federal moratorium on certain evictions has also lapsed.
Negotiators are meeting twice on Wednesday, the first time with the postmaster general and the second time with just Meadows, Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“Well, we’re working very hard, but we got a lot of issues,” Schumer said heading into the meeting on Wednesday.
Trump is mulling taking his own executive actions to address issues such as the eviction moratorium and unemployment.
Asked if Trump would take such steps if talks between the administration and congressional Democrats end, Meadows indicated that was on the table.
“The president continues to look at executive action on a variety of issues that are affecting those who have economically been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. I don’t know I would put them necessarily on the timeline you outlined,” he said.