With only days to go before the Aug. 7 recess, lawmakers have been working through a standoff to provide some form of stimulus aid in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While talks have been deadlocked over specific provisions the GOP-proposed HEALS Act, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed on Tuesday that the White House and Democrats are looking to strike a deal before the end of the week.
"We're not at the point of being close to a deal, but we did try to agree to set a timeline," Mnuchin said. "We're going to try to reach an overall agreement, if we can get one, by the end of this week — so that legislation could then pass next week." On Monday, President Donald Trump's administration and Congressional Democratic leaders had met to discuss the proposed stimulus package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both called the meeting "productive."
Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shared Schumer's hopeful outlook, though some are skeptical that a deal will be in place by Friday. Here's a look at the significant events that transpired on Tuesday while Congress works to put together a second stimulus package.
Sen. Sanders Speaks Out
The $600 a week in additional unemployment insurance has helped American workers afford their medicine, put food on the table, and keep roofs over their heads.
Why the hell did Republicans just strip this lifeline away from 30 million workers trying to survive this pandemic? pic.twitter.com/S1PVqzJb6H— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 4, 2020
One of the most contentious issues assumed to be causing the slowdown was the disagreement over unemployment insurance. The CARES Act provided $600 a week in addition to their state-funded payments, and the HEALS Act had proposed one-third that amount. Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Sanders called out the GOP after the CARES Act benefits expired on Friday.prevnext
As Does Sen. Cruz
Ted Cruz showing his disgust at ‘waiters and waitresses’ getting the $600 unemployment benefit....maybe this jackass should’ve told his buddy Trump to issue a federal mask mandate four months ago so it would be safe to go back to work#100Days pic.twitter.com/WPz1tLCbkM— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) July 26, 2020
Representing the position of many of his GOP colleagues, Sen. Ted Cruz spoke out viscerally in opposition to the CARES Act payments. "The problem is, for 68 percent of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more." He also cited businesses whose owners are getting shot down from their works who don't want to come back "because the federal government is paying them in some instances twice as much money to stay home."prevnext
Gold Prices Spiked
Talk of the stimulus package has caused gold to reach a record high of $2,000 on Tuesday. Traders started investing in the asset, commonly known as a "safe-haven" in anticipation of a second stimulus. Spot gold specifically rose about 1.2% to $2,000.58 per ounce before it ended up pairing some gains.prevnext
No Food Stamp Expansion
There's currently no food stamp expansion in the HEALS Act, so the Democrats put together their $3.5 billion proposal giving a 15 percent increase on SNAP benefits through the end of September 2021 along with an additional $10 billion designated for the program through the duration of the pandemic. Republicans, on the other hand, don't share their outlook, creating another contentious issue.prevnext
Sen. McConnell's Plan B
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, citing the standoff between the Trump administration and Democrats, said he'd consider passing a bill in the Senate without assistance from either. McConnell's remarks came Tuesday following a meeting between the two parties. "Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, that have to sign it into law, and the Democrat not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I'm prepared to support even if I have some problems with certain parts of it," he told reporters.prevnext
Rep. Pelosi Names the Price
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Pelosi spoke about the $1 trillion proposed for the HEALS Act, and what amount she'd end up settling for. She replied simply, "Yeah, $3.4 trillion," referring to the figure of the HEROES Act that was passed by the House back in May. However, that figure does not sit well with those on the other side of the aisle, with McConnell flat-out rejecting that amount.prev