After nearly two weeks of discussions, an agreement on COVID-19 relief funding is on the brink of collapse after little progress was made on several outstanding issues like expanded unemployment benefits, $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments, and liability protections.
“Theres a handful of very big issues that we are still very far apart” on a deal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the lead White House negotiator, told reporters on Thursday. He cited disagreements on aid to state and local governments, as well as the extra additional unemployment benefits of $600 per week.
“My frustration is that we couldve passed a very skinny deal that dealt with some of the most pressing issues,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN Thursday evening.
President Donald Trump recently announced that his administration is considering issuing executive orders to address unemployment benefits, evictions, and student loans.
If the talks fail, it would put at risk $1,200 stimulus payments to most Americans, billions of dollars to help reopen schools, and billions in dollars in aid to state and local governments to help them avoid furloughing workers and cutting some services.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in an interview with PBS, placed the blame on the Republican side.
“The point is we have a bill that meets the needs of the American people. Its called the HEROES Act. They [Republicans] dont even want to do state and local and when they do, its very meager and they want to revert money from before,” she said, referring to a $3 trillion package that was passed by House Democrats in May, according to The Associated Press.