Negotiators fail to agree on COVID-19 relief; talks resume Friday

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 1, 2020

The Senate has adjourned until Monday, Aug. 3, as Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on an extension of the $600-per-week jobless benefit that expires Friday.

"So there's no clearer message that the American people should receive other than the fact that the Democrats are willing to play politics at a critical time in our nation's very dire circumstances as we deal with this pandemic", said Meadows.

The federal benefit ran out last week but officially expired Friday.

Also at issue in the negotiations is an nearly $1 trillion Democratic demand for funding for state and local governments, a second $1,200 direct payment to most American adults, more than $100 billion to help schools reopen and a liability shield measure that is essential to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Republicans have argued that the benefits pay many workers more than 100% of their previous salary, making it hard for businesses to bring back workers. "When we get to the end of the process, I would hope all of the non-COVID related measures are out no matter what bill they were in at the start".

A study by researchers at Yale found that workers who received more in unemployment benefits than their lost wages returned to work at the same rate as those who received less than they previously earned.

Economic analyses have repeatedly shown that the boosted federal benefits have helped prop up other parts of the economy - and a cut would cost the USA millions of jobs.

The House in May passed a $3 trillion deal that addressed a wide range of coronavirus responses, including more money for testing, for elections and support to financially strapped state and local governments.

The Senate attempted to pass its unemployment extension bill, which offers to match two-thirds of a previous wage from combined state and federal sources. Democrats unanimously opposed the measure, authored by GOP Sens.

Meadows said that the White House made "no less than four" offers to Democrats dealing with the enhanced benefit and eviction protection and said that the offers were all rejected.

"They won't engage - period", McConnell said on the Senate floor. "The Democrats are saying, 'My way or the highway'".

Schumer insisted it was McConnell who "refuses to go in the room" and negotiate, according to the AP. "Clearly, they and perhaps the White House do not understand the gravity of the situation".

However, Democrats rejected Trump's proposal, instead opting to try and pass a more comprehensive bill that would include more stimulus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday a short-term bill would be appropriate if a deal were within grasp, but that's not the case.

White House negotiators, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, tried to persuade congressional Democrats late Thursday to accept a weeklong extension of the pandemic-related unemployment benefit, set to expire Friday.

Without a deal in sight, it is unclear when the two sides may move on any legislation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, meanwhile, advised members on Friday that despite a planned August recess the House is expected to meet during the month of August as talks continue around a coronavirus relief package. Any deal will take weeks to sort out.

For unemployed teacher Katie Krupp of Springfield, Ohio, the $600 that the federal government temporarily added to state unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic has been a lifeline that allowed her to pay her mortgage and other bills after her job was eliminated.

Robert Reich, who served as the secretary of labor under former President Bill Clinton, criticized Republican Senate leaders for going on a long weekend as millions of families lose most of their income.

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