Virus relief bill remains up in air as negotiations resume

0
342
Capitol building and US Economy background

WASHINGTON (AP) — Slow, grinding negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill are set to resume, but the path forward promises to be challenging. Both the Trump administration negotiating team and top Capitol Hill Democrats reported progress over the weekend even as they highlighted their differences.

Ahead of Monday’s talks, all sides predict a long slog ahead despite the lapse of a $600-per-week supplemental COVID-19 jobless benefit, the beginning of school season and the call of lawmakers’ cherished August recess. Several more days of talks are expected, if not more.

- Advertisement -

The White House is seeking opportunities to boost President Donald Trump, like another round of $1,200 stimulus payments and extending the supplemental jobless benefit and partial eviction ban. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democratic negotiator, appears intent on an agreement as well, but she’s made it clear she needs big money for state and local governments, unemployment benefits and food aid.

Appearances by the principal negotiators on Sunday’s news shows featured continued political shots by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows at Pelosi for turning down a one-week extension of the $600 benefit in talks last week.

Meadows, however, is understaffed during the talks and seems to struggle with his read on Pelosi. He spent much of his time on CBS’ “Face The Nation” attacking her for opposing a piecemeal approach that would revive jobless benefits immediately but leave other items like food stamps and aid to states for later legislation. She is insisting on a complete package.

Areas of agreement already include the $1,200 direct payment and changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to permit especially hard-hit businesses to obtain another loan under generous forgiveness terms.

But the terms and structure of the unemployment benefit remains a huge sticking point, negotiators said Sunday, and Meadows hasn’t made any concessions on the almost $1 trillion Pelosi wants for state and local governments grappling with pandemic-related revenue losses.

“We still have a long ways to go,” Meadows said, adding, “I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term.”

Pelosi said she’d consider reducing the $600 benefit for states with lower unemployment rates. Republicans want to cut the benefit to encourage beneficiaries to return to work and say it is bad policy since it pays many jobless people more money than they made at their previous jobs.

“But in this agreement it’s $600,” Pelosi said on ABC’s ’This Week.″ “Yes, they might anecdotally have examples, but the fact is, is that they’re subjecting somebody who gets $600 to scrutiny they won’t subject some of the people that are getting millions of dollars” through the loan program for small businesses that keep employees on their payrolls.

Another sticking point is that Republicans want to give more school aid to systems that are restarting with in-school learning, even as Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s top coronavirus adviser, cautioned that schools in areas with spikes in cases should delay reopening

“In the areas where we have this widespread case increase, we need to stop the cases, and then we can talk about safely reopening,” Birx said on “This Week.”

The House passed a $3.5 trillion measure in May, but Republicans controlling the Senate have demanded a slower approach, saying it was necessary to take a “pause” before passing additional legislation. Since they announced that strategy, however, coronavirus caseloads have spiked and the economy has absorbed an enormous blow.

Previous articleSpaceX capsule and NASA crew make 1st splashdown in 45 years
Next articleLord & Taylor is latest retailer to file for bankruptcy
mm
Erica joins the ABC 36 family as a Co-Anchor of Good Morning Kentucky weekday mornings from 5am-7am with Cody Adams and Good Day Kentucky weekday mornings from 9am to 10am. Erica also anchors News at Midday from 12-12:30pm. She is also a Web and Social Media Content Producer. Erica graduated in three and a half years from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and specialization in Women, Gender and Social Justice. Although she hails from Michigan, Erica has worked as a News Reporter/Sports Anchor for the CBS-affiliate in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to that, she worked for a PBS-affiliate there covering all types of news – even providing live reports for The Weather Channel during her first hurricane. She then moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and worked as the Weekend Anchor/Reporter at KPLC, the NBC/FOX/CW affiliate. Erica comes to Lexington from the Huntington area where she worked at WSAZ, an NBC/CW affiliate in West Virginia, as a weekday evening anchor covering the tri states of Ohio and Kentucky as well. In addition to her background on TV, Erica has worked in radio, served as the PA announcer for the Class A "Lansing Lugnuts" and hosted Carnival parades in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of her favorite hobbies include running, reading, hiking, spending time with her husband and taking pictures of their furbabies. Erica is big on community involvement, having served as a board member for Dress for Success, volunteered as a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters, worked on the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission in Lake Charles and hosted countless events. She hopes you can connect with her on Facebook: EricaBivensTV and on Twitter: @ericabivens or Instagram: erica.bivens. You can also email her at ebivens@wtvq.com. Please send all event inquiries via email. Erica is excited to explore Lexington and the outdoors and - of course - meet all of you!