Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse when it comes to the next coronavirus stimulus, leaving little hope that relief for millions of Americans in need will pass before the Senate returns from recess after Labor Day. After Thursday's session, legislators in the Senate adjourned for a month-long break, despite remaining miles apart when it comes to assembling the next pandemic relief package.
Thursday, negotiators from both parties had no concrete plans to meet over the break after weeks of unsuccessful talks. Democrats now insist they won't meet with White House officials on the issue until Republicans agree to spend at least $2 trillion on the package, which is double the size of the GOP's initial proposal. Republicans, meanwhile, have remained staunch in their refusal to add to the relief price tag.
Asked when she would next meet with Republicans, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday, "I don't know. When they come in with $2 trillion," as per Politico. "When they're ready to do that, we'll sit down. We're not inching away from their meager piecemeal proposal." At her news conference, Pelosi pointed out visually the differences between Democratic and GOP suggestions for the relief package in areas like food assistance, coronavirus testing and rental assistance, for which the Democrats have suggested $100 billion in funding and Republicans have offered "nothing." Pelosi continued, "The press says, 'Why can't you come to an agreement?' Because we are miles apart in our values."
The same day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of "barely even pretending to negotiate," saying on the floor that the Democratic leadership's push for the $2 trillion in funding was ridiculous and performative. "The Speaker's latest spin is that it is some heroic sacrifice to lower her demand from a made-up $3.5 trillion marker that was never going to become law to an equally made up $2.5 trillion marker," McConnell said, referring to the Democratic package that the House passed in May. "That's not negotiating. That's throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks." McConnell added that he still hopes "we'll have some kind of bipartisan agreement here sometime in the coming weeks."
Meanwhile, the protections provided in the first coronavirus relief package have expired. At the end of July, a moratorium on evictions from federally-backed housing expired, as did enhanced federal unemployment insurance of $600 per week lapsed at the end of July. This weekend, the window to apply for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans closed.