Negotiations regarding a new relief bill seem to have become unpredictable. In the same week, President Trump has ordered his administration officials to stop the talks, to resume them two days later, has then increased his offer, and now says he wants a bigger deal than both parties. Where do things stand?
In a tweet before the meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House official Steven Mnuchin, at which an offer of 1.8 trillion was made, Trump urged negotiators to “Go Big!,” according to CNBC.
He later added more confusion to this chaotic week by saying to radio host Rush Limbaugh:
“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package frankly than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering.”
Even though the new offer has brought both sides closer regarding the price tag of the stimulus package, Congress still faces several hurdles to be able to craft and pass a new relief bill.
Even if the White House and Democrats finally reach an agreement on how much money to inject into a struggling health-care system and economy, they have to come up with a bill that can get through the Republican-held Senate.
About this, on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said another stimulus package is “unlikely in the next three weeks.”
In order to reach an agreement before the elections, Republicans and Democrats have little time to resolve several issues that have seemed dealbreakers throughout months of talks, one of the main obstacles being Pelosi’s insistence on at least $436 billion in relief for cash-crunched state and local governments, to which Trump has opposed.
Democrats also want to reinstate the enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week through January, while Mnuchin's last offer was a weekly supplemental benefit of $400.
Other areas of dispute include tax credits and food aid.
For months, Congress has failed to send new relief money as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, millions of Americans remain unemployed, and the most important lifelines to sustain them through the economic crisis expired in July.
While the help given by Trump’s executive order is all that is left, U.S. jobless claims remain high as hiring starts to slow and Airlines and other major U.S. companies have moved toward furloughing or laying off tens of thousands of workers.
With things changing every moment, It remains to be seen if Congress can iron out differences in time to pass another relief bill before Nov. 3 and avoid the risks of not giving the US the financial aid that will help it to stay afloat.