President Donald Trump's administration and Congressional Democratic leaders met again on Monday to discuss the next coronavirus stimulus bill, which will likely include a second stimulus check. The two sides met for more than two hours at the Capitol and, while they left without making a deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was "productive." The White House is trying to get Democrats to accept short-term fixes, but they have been attempting to get a bigger relief bill through.
Pelosi and Schumer met with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who are representing the administration during the talks. The meeting happened a week after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally introduced the $1 trillion HEALS Act in the Senate, almost two months after the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act. Monday's meeting mostly focused on funding to reopen schools, and no deal seems close to fruition, reports Politico.
"We are really getting an understanding of each side's position," Schumer said. "And we're making some progress on certain issues moving closer together. There are a lot of issues that are still outstanding. But I think there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can. And so we're continuing to work."
Pelosi called Monday's talks "productive" and they are "moving down the track," even as they still have "differences," reports CNBC. The California Democrat also spoke with House Democrats on a conference call late Monday, telling them there might be no resolution until next week. The two sides are still not close to an agreement on the unemployment insurance issue. As for Mnuchin, he said talks were getting a "little bit" closer but told reporters they are still very far apart on the overall cost of the package.
Democrats want to keep the $600-per-week federal unemployment benefit going through 2021, while Republicans are trying to cut that down to $200-per-week. They did offer a one-week extension of the $600 payment, which expired on Friday, but Democrats have rejected the short-term deal. According to Politico, White House officials have said Trump might sign an executive order, which could delay federal payroll taxes or keep the moratorium on student loans going. Trump has long called for a payroll tax cut, although Republicans have rejected it and did not include it in the HEALS Act.
Trump confirmed he would consider using executive orders. "A lot of people are going to be evicted, but I'm going to stop it because I'll do it myself when I have to," Trump said during a White House event Monday. "I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we're looking at that very seriously right now."
During a speech on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell slammed Democratic leadership for still going along with the HEROES Act, which he has dismissed as a liberal "wishlist" that should not be considered in bipartisan talks. He is also expected to schedule votes later this week on individual proposals for the federal unemployment benefits. McConnell needs Democratic votes to pass a stimulus package in the Senate, especially after he said he believes up to 20 Republicans would not vote for the HEALS Act.