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Trump pleads with Dems to agree to extend $600-a-week unemployment boost 24 hours before it expires

Donald Trump urged Democrats to reach a deal on a coronavirus relief package that extends the $600-per-week unemployment boost as Republicans were unable to reach their own deal just 24 hours before the benefits expire.

‘We want a temporary extension of expanded unemployment benefits,’ Trump told reporters at the White House during a coronavirus briefing.

‘I want to thank Senate Republicans for fighting to extend unemployment benefits today in the face of very strong Democrats obstruction, which I’m surprised at,’ the president continued.

Trump also promised he would push for Congress to include in the fourth COVID-19 stimulus package another round of checks for Americans – similar to the $1,200 checks that were circulated, and signed by the president, earlier this year.

‘We need Democrats to join us to pass additional economic relief payments for American citizens,’ Trump said, putting the onus on the opposition party. ‘Like the payments sent directly to 160 million Americans earlier this year, which was a tremendously successful program.’

He added: ‘This money will help millions of hardworking families get by.’

Republicans spent the week attempting to pass their proposal through before the $600 enhanced benefits expired Friday, but between in-party fighting and failed negotiations between the White House and Democrats, no compromise was reached.

‘I’m asking Congress to pass additional legislation to support Americans in need,’ Trump encouraged.

‘I’m not very optimistic that we will have any kind of an agreement on a comprehensive bill in the near in the near future,’ White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters at the Capitol Thursday.

‘I’m not even optimistic about next week,’ he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled Republican’s $1 trillion stimulus package on Monday afternoon, but negotiations quickly stalled.

The plan includes cutting the temporary $600-per-week unemployment boost from the previous coronavirus legislation to $200. In both instances, individuals still receive state-level unemployment benefits.

The GOP’s goal is also to phase out the flat-rate boost 60 days after it’s passed and then cap benefits at 70 per cent of the individual’s pre-coronavirus wages.

Tens of millions of Americans could see their incomes drop 50–75 per cent when the bolstered weekly benefits expire Friday.

Meadows revealed Wednesday, ‘We’re nowhere close to a deal.’

Trump revealed during his press conference Thursday that he also wants the next package to include $105 billion to get schools reopened, a temporary stop to evictions for those who cannot afford rent and an extension to interest and deferment of student loan payments.

While Democrats, Republicans and the White House have all signaled their willingness to reach a deal and expressed urgency over the matter, none seem willing to compromise on certain key points – including what to do with the expiring enhanced unemployment insurance provisions. 

Shortly after McConnell unveiled the Republican package from the Senate floor Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi railed against the proposal.

‘Why are you quibbling over $600 when people need that to buy food, pay rent?’ the California Democrat lamented.

Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have spent the last week negotiating with Republicans at the Capitol on behalf of the president.

While Trump doesn’t mind stimulus bills with high price tags, there are many fiscal conservatives who will not jump on board another sweeping stimulus package.

Republicans who object to big government spending, like Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, reveal that at least 50 per cent of GOP lawmakers will not vote in favor of any new sweeping legislation.

While Meadows wants to make Republican demands prominent in the bill, Mnuchin, who has a history of successful negotiations with Democrats, has his heart set on making a deal with the opposition party.

Mnuchin and Meadows have met with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer three days in a row and are expected to hold talks again on Thursday.

Over the weekend and earlier this week, the White House duo met with Republicans to try and reach a deal among in-party fighting to provide the much-needed economic relief to Americans in the midst of the prevailing pandemic.

The unemployment boost expiration comes as the death toll in the U.S. hits 150,000 and there are more than 4.4 million confirmed cases amid a recent surge in the sun belt.

States experiencing surges, like Florida, Texas and Southern California, were forced to reinstate partial or, in some cases, full lockdowns, furthering economic struggles among populations in those regions.

When the coronavirus crisis hit and the nation began lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, millions were furloughed or put out of work, whether it was temporarily or permanently. The jobless and unemployment numbers reached an all-time-high.

While McConnell’s proposal appears to be dead on arrival, with Democrats and Republicans rebuking the measure, other GOP lawmakers are looking to reach a compromise with their versions.

Senator Mitt Romney laid out his proposal Wednesday night and Senator Ron Johnson will put out his own proposal later in the day Thursday as lawmakers scramble to agree on something before the benefits’ expiration.

Romney’s plan would prioritize enhancing pay for essential workers making less than $90,000, rather than boosting unemployment and further incentivizing individuals to not go back to work.

Johnson’s proposal would give Americans 66 per cent of their wages – or some other amount less than the previous $600 boost.

Other Republicans are likely to unveil their own proposals to tackle the unemployment insurance issue on Thursday.

‘There’s a deal to be made, a much greater number than where Senate Republicans are, and somewhat less than where House Democrats are on unemployment that can be reached by Friday,’ a senior administration official said, according to Politico.

‘There’s a PPP extension satisfactory to Democrats, funding [community development financial institutions], renter eviction protection,’ the official continues.

McConnell’s bill also included a second round of $1,200 relief checks for Americans, a measure Republicans were sure would appease Democrats.

The package, he announced Monday, would also allocate $100 billion for schools as the president pushes for them to reopen in the fall.

During a closed-door lunch meeting with Republican senators on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon, Meadows, joined by Mnuchin, said he had no problem saying ‘no’ to Pelosi and Schumer’s demands.

‘I’m comfortable saying ‘no’ and being the skunk at the garden party,’ Meadows insisted.

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