New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries appeared on Full Court Press Overtime with Greta Van Susteren on Saturday, claiming the United States Senate is not taking the new stimulus bill seriously. The lawmaker suggested that the Republican-majority legislature is not prepared to negotiate in good faith, considering how long they waited to act at all. He questioned whether the new HEALS Act is even a "serious" offer.
Jeffries dismissed the calls from Republicans for the Democratic-majority U.S. Congress to compromise with them on the HEALS Act, saying that the Senate has waited too long to act already. He pointed out that Congress passed the HEROES Act back in May, which already made their priorities for coronavirus relief clear. At the time, the Senate ignored the bill officially while condemning it in the media.
Overtime: Rep. Jeffries implies Senate not serious about new stimulus plan https://t.co/fCiIQH60cQ— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) August 2, 2020
"It's not clear to me what has taken the Senate so long to get serious — or that they are even serious at this particular point in time," Jeffries said. "That's quite unfortunate. That's why we are where we are."
Jeffries also dismissed the idea of a temporary "skinny bill" to extend the emergency unemployment benefits which expired this week. Again, he pointed out that the HEROES Act would have extended these benefits already if Republicans had been willing to discuss it at the time. He also reminded viewers that about 50 million Americans — 20% of American workers — are currently unemployed.
On Sunday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared on ABC News, saying that he and other Republicans have proposed a temporary extension to the $600 per week unemployment enhancement, but that Democrats have turned them down. On the same program, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuted this claim, saying her party has not received an actual offer from Mnuchin.
"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]. Overwhelmingly, 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 has made it clear that the unemployment enhancement is the central issue where she and other Democrats intend to stand their ground in negotiations with Republicans. As it is currently written, the HEALS Act would drop the $600 emergency bonus to $200 per week and would task states with implementing a new system for calculating the unemployment bonus based on income. This would likely take until October, and in the meantime, millions of Americans would be without financial support.