The Key Points:
• The Capitol Hill’s COVID-19 negotiations are continuing, with the Administration offering a $916-billion package that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans.
• However, this proposal would eliminate a $300-per-week employment benefit favored by a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators.
The offer arrived Tuesday with the endorsement of the top House Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and appeared to demonstrate some flexibility.
But Democrats immediately opposed the plan due to the Administration’s refusal to back the partial restoration, to $300 per week, of bonus pandemic jobless benefits that lapsed in August.
The House on Wednesday will pass a one-week government funding bill to give lawmakers more time to come to a conclusion.
This standstill is after months of futile negotiations and flip-flopping. Without the temporary measure, the government would shut down this weekend and there would be no more negotiations and no stimulus package at all.
McConnell says Congress will not adjourn without providing the long-overdue COVID-19 relief. There isn’t an option to fail to create a plan, as many Americans have been desperately waiting for a stimulus package for weeks.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin made the new offer to Pelosi late Tuesday afternoon, he said in a statement.
Democrats are instead invested in the work of a bipartisan group to take the lead in crafting a solution.
That group — led by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, among others — is seeking to $300-per-week jobless benefit and $160 billion for states and local governments.
Republicans won’t budge above the agreed-upon $908-billion price tag, which leaves no room for even the reduced $600 direct government payment to most Americans that is sought by Trump.
“We can’t get our Republican colleagues above the $908 billion,” Manchin said Wednesday on CNN.
“Right now we’re targeting struggling families, failing businesses, healthcare workers and we don’t have a stimulus check to every single person, regardless of need,” said Collins.
Other key elements of a potential year-end COVID-19 rescue package are clear: Another round of subsidies for businesses that are especially hard hit by the pandemic; extension of regular state jobless benefits set to expire Dec. 31; funding to distribute vaccines and other help for struggling healthcare providers; and funding for schools.
Check back in for continued coverage of the story at the San Francisco Times.