Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that opposition to parts of a pending deal between the Democrats and the Trump administration could still mean he'll try to pass the bill without their help. The announcement came on Tuesday, following a meeting between the two parties. Both groups are indicating a deal on the stimulus package is coming together.
"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, via CNBC. As of Tuesday morning, however, there were only a few areas of consensus, including extending funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and another one-time payment of $1,200. Neither side has managed to come to an agreement regarding extending the extra federal unemployment insurance or offering relief to budget-crunched state and local governments, just to name a couple.
"We're making progress," insisted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "We really went down issue by issue by issue, slogging through them," he said. "They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We made some concessions, which they appreciated. We're still far away on a lot of the important issues, but we're continuing to go at it."
A big area of contention is the Democrats' insistence that the government extends the $600-per-week jobless benefit as well as the eviction moratorium from federally-backed housing. On Monday, President Donald Trump also floated the idea of an executive order reinstating the temporary eviction ban. "I could do that if I want, and I want to do that," Trump told reporters. "I don't want people to be evicted. They're thrown out viciously. It's not their fault. It's not their fault. It's China's fault," he added, once more placing blame on the country where coronavirus was first discovered.
Along with evictions, Trump also spoke about payroll tax cuts, which he's repeatedly insisted would be an effective strategy to help jump-start the economy, though some economists disagree. "I can do that also through executive order, so we'll be talking about that," Trump added. There is no such provision right now in the proposed HEALS Act, partly because those payroll taxes help fund programs like Social Security and Medicare, neither of which are both in good financial shape due to the pandemic.