Democrats say White House isn’t budging in coronavirus relief stalemate
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Wednesday that the White House isn’t “budging” in the stalemated coronavirus relief negotiations, the latest sign that a deal is not on the horizon.
The two Democratic leaders said in a joint statement that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had made an “overture” to meet but also made clear that the White House wasn’t moving on either the price tag of the legislation or what should be in it.
“We have again made clear to the Administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously. The lives and livelihoods of the American people as well as the life of our democracy are at stake,” Pelosi and Schumer added.
The joint statement comes nearly a week after talks between congressional Democrats, Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows derailed amid sizable policy and political differences.
Democrats had offered to reduce their $3.4 trillion price tag by $1 trillion if GOP negotiators agreed to increase their roughly $1 trillion package by the same amount, but the offer was rejected.
The two sides are also far apart on issues like unemployment insurance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) red line of liability protections, and more money for state and local governments, a top priority for Democrats.
It’s unclear what, if anything, could break the stalemate. Most lawmakers have left Washington and aren’t expected to return until September, absent an agreement. The next jobs report won’t be released until early next month, and the country’s national attention is set to shift for roughly two weeks to the Democratic and GOP conventions that get underway starting Monday.
Mnuchin, during an interview with Fox Business on Wednesday, said the administration would be willing to resume negotiations if Democrats would be “reasonable,” but he stopped short of predicting whether the two sides would be able to strike a deal.
“I can’t speculate. If the Democrats are willing to be reasonable, there’s a compromise. If the Democrats are focused on politics and don’t want to do anything that’s going to succeed for the president, there won’t be a deal,” he said.