Speaker for the House Nancy Pelosi delivered some bad news on the next stimulus check on Saturday, saying: "We are nowhere close" to a compromise. Pelosi and the rest of the U.S. Congress will soon be asked to negotiate with the United States Senate over their HEALS Act — the latest coronavirus economic relief package. The two legislative bodies and the two political parties are split over how best to protect the American economy from this crisis.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Saturday at the nation's capital, according to a report by The Daily Mail. They were there to discuss the sticking points expected to plague lawmakers in passing the HEALS Act over the next week or more. They met the day after the $600 emergency unemployment enhancement expired, with Pelosi and Schumer demanding that it be extended in the next bill. When Meadows and Mnuchin disagreed, Pelosi reportedly assessed this as bad news for the American economy.
Pelosi and other members of her party have indicated that this unemployment enhancement is the issue where they intend to put their foot down when it comes to compromises on this bill. The Republican-written plan reduces these emergency unemployment enhancements from $600 to $200, and tasks states with the job of implementing a new unemployment plan over the next few months.
With about 20 percent of American workers unemployed — according to a report by Forbes — these unemployment enhancements have been vital for keeping many people afloat through this pandemic. Republican critics have said that unemployment payments create an incentive for people not to work. However, public health officials say that this is the point in the case of the coronavirus pandemic.
Beyond that, many other issues are plaguing the negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he and some senators in his party will put their foot down on the liability shields written into his bill to protect businesses from any legal liability if a person contracts COVID-19 on their premises.
McConnell's bill also provides a massive amount of military funding, write-offs for senators like himself and other controversial measures, while discluding housing assistance or food provisions. Critics say that McConnell is not prepared to negotiate in good faith, as he ignored Congress' last stimulus bill and introduced this one at the last possible minute. New coronavirus cases and deaths are still on the rise around the U.S.