Lawmakers returned to their negotiations for another stimulus check negotiation on Monday morning as Americans head into a week without unemployment enhancements. The United States Senate has introduced the HEALS Act, proposing another round of coronavirus relief stimulus, but some major provisions are holding the process up. Some key deadlines are approaching quickly, and some have already passed.
Democrats in Congress have been battling it out with the Republican-led Senate over the new stimulus package, written by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat down with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Saturday, and traded blows with them in the press on Sunday. As a new week begins, the groups are getting back to work, according to a report by CNN.
After Democrats turned down offer of short-term extension, Speaker Pelosi says, “We have been for the $600. They have a $200 proposal which does not meet the needs of working families … the idea that they made a proposal is really not actually factual.” https://t.co/qvp1ZOU4QD pic.twitter.com/GZEjjBz99r— ABC News (@ABC) August 2, 2020
A source involved in the negotiations said that they have "No clue how we get this done at this point. Just so much outstanding." Lawmakers are agreed on the stimulus check itself — which will be very similar to the first one — but other issues including the unemployment enhancements are becoming a sticking point.
Pelosi has said that she and other Democrats will put their foot down on the issue of the federal unemployment aid. The provision added $600 to unemployment checks for the millions of laid-off Americans between March and last week, when the program expired. Congress passed Pelosi's HEROES Act back in May, which would have extended this benefit, but the Senate ignored it. Now, McConnell's HEALS Act would cut that funding to $200, on a temporary basis.
On Sunday, Mnuchin appeared on ABC News claiming that the Trump administration had offered a temporary "skinny bill" to extend the unemployment payments alone while the other aspects of the HEALS Act are worked out. Pelosi soon appeared on the very same program to say that Mnuchin was lying.
"The idea that they made a proposal is not actually factual," she said. "The fact is that they're subjecting somebody who gets $600 to scrutiny that they won't subject somebody who is getting millions of dollars from PPP [Paycheck Protection Program]. Overwhemingly, this is keeping people out of poverty... the $600 is essential for America's working families. To condescend, to disrespect their motivation is so amazing."
Pelosi and other lawmakers have also questioned why the Senate waited months to write and debate this bill, knowing that it would create a deadline with their scheduled recess. The Senate is due to leave Washington, D.C. on Friday for a three week trip to their home states, while Congress was meant to do the same this past Friday, but rescheduled.