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Pelosi and Mnuchin dig in on stimulus positions ahead of scheduled Monday talks – CNN

(CNN)Swift, bipartisan agreement on a new coronavirus stimulus package seems unlikely as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dug in on their opposing positions Sunday.

Democratic leaders and the White House held a round of productive meetings on Saturday, but reported that they remain far apart on an agreement. Pelosi and Mnuchin, along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said they expect to meet Monday to resume discussions.
“We obviously need bipartisan support to get any deal done, the last two deals we got done 96-0 and 100-0. I think it’s pretty fair to say that we’re not going to do that again,” Mnuchin told reporters Sunday.
Asked on Sunday by ABC’s Martha Raddatz on “This Week” when negotiators could potentially have a deal, Pelosi said, “We’ll be close to an agreement when we have … an agreement.”
Each doubled down on what has been a main sticking point in negotiations: the extension of federal enhanced unemployment benefits that expired Friday.
Pelosi reiterated comments from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer last week that the $600 price tag on enhanced federal unemployment benefits is not a deal breaker for Democrats.
“The amount of money that is given as an enhancement for unemployment insurance should relate to the rate of unemployment, so as that goes down, you can consider something less than the 600, but in this agreement, it’s 600,” Pelosi explained.
However, the California Democrat disputed Hoyer’s comment that there was “some validity” to the Republicans’ argument that the $600 benefit is a disincentive for some Americans to go back to work, arguing that she has statistics to prove that the federal money is keeping people out of poverty.
“The $600 is essential. It’s essential for America’s working families. And, again, to condescend, to disrespect their motivation is so amazing … how insistent the Republicans are about a working family and their $600 and how cavalier they are about other money that is going out,” the California Democrat said.
She later noted that Democrats are “unified” in their support for the $600 benefit, and claimed that Republicans are in “disarray.”
Mnuchin argued that the White House had proposed a one-week unemployment benefit extension of $600 as negotiations continued, but had been rebuffed by Democrats. Without giving details, the Treasury secretary also said he and Meadows made “three or four” other offers to the Democrats to deal with enhanced unemployment.
Unemployment “should be tied to some percentage of wages, the fact that we had a flat number was only an issue of an emergency,” Mnuchin said in an interview on ABC “This Week,” but he added: “On the concept, we absolutely agree on enhanced unemployment, we want to fix the issue.”
The Treasury secretary on Sunday also highlighted another contentious issue in the talks: additional funding for local and state governments.
“The Democrats right now are insisting on over a trillion dollars to state and local governments that’s something that we’re not going to do, to bail out those who had financial issues,” he said.
Mnuchin had told reporters following talks on Saturday that “there’s clearly a subset of issues where we both agree on,” listing an extension of unemployment insurance, schools, the Paycheck Protection Program and jobs. But the House Speaker had made clear that Democrats are not interested in a short-term fix.
Pelosi said Sunday that many in her caucus would like to see a package that lasts through September or June of next year, but she just wants to make it through the appropriations process in January.
“What are we going to do? Come back to the table and do this in two or three months again? No. Let’s give this the courtesy and the certainty of some assurance that this support will be there,” she said in an interview on MSNBC.
Schumer, though, expressed optimism on Sunday, saying that while “significant” divisions remain, “good progress” was made in discussions with the White House.
“We made good progress, there are lots of things that we’re still divided on, and we’re not close to an agreement yet, but we are making progress and I’m hopeful that we can get to an agreement,” he told reporters in New York City after arriving from Washington, DC.
“We will meet again tomorrow, and I am working as hard as I can to get this done,” he said.

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Mnuchin Republicans

Mnuchin says Republicans and Democrats are ‘far apart’ on coronavirus relief bill as talks continue – CNBC

A man walks past the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, June 25, 2020.

Al Drago | Reuters

Republicans and Democrats appeared far from striking a coronavirus relief deal Wednesday as millions of Americans wait to see whether Congress will renew financial lifelines during an ongoing economic and health crisis.

As negotiators cite little progress in talks and congressional leaders snipe at one another on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration again raised the prospect of a short-term plan to address only enhanced unemployment insurance and a federal eviction moratorium while the sides hash out a broader bill. Democrats have repeatedly rejected a temporary fix. 

“We’re nowhere close to a deal,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., according to reporters at the Capitol.

Earlier, Mnuchin said President Donald Trump would support approving short-term legislation to allow more time for talks if the parties fail to strike an agreement before Friday. The enhanced $600 per week federal unemployment benefit technically expires that day.

“We’re not accepting that,” Pelosi told reporters after the meeting, saying she wants a “comprehensive” bill.

Comments from congressional leaders and White House officials portrayed a messy, politically charged process that appears unlikely to lead to a quick breakthrough to combat an economic and health-care calamity. As roughly 30 million people still receive some form of unemployment insurance, states have stopped paying out the extra jobless benefit. A federal eviction moratorium also expired last week. 

As Covid-19 spreads throughout the country, the U.S. has now reported more than 4.3 million cases and more than 150,000 deaths related to the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Senate Republicans released a roughly $1 trillion pandemic aid bill this week, a counter to the $3 trillion package House Democrats passed in May. But the proposal has not earned the support of many GOP lawmakers, let alone Democrats. 

As his administration works with Pelosi and Schumer to craft a plan that could pass both the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House, Trump downplayed the importance of resolving issues other than the jobless benefit and eviction moratorium. 

“We’re going to work on the evictions, so that people don’t get evicted. We’ll work on the payments for the people. And the rest of it, we’re so far apart, we don’t care. We really don’t care,” the president told reporters before he left for Texas on Wednesday. 

He claimed that “the Democrats aren’t taking care of the people. The payments aren’t enough.” 

Democrats have pushed to send significantly more money to Americans than Republicans have. They want to continue the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance boost into next year. The GOP has proposed to cut the benefit to $200 per week through September, then change it to 70% wage replacement. 

Democrats’ plan for another round of direct payments to Americans also differs from the Republican bill. It would send another check of up to $1,200 to most individuals, and $2,400 to couples. The plan would add another $1,200 per dependent for up to three children, a maximum of $6,000 per household. 

The Republican legislation would send checks of up to $1,200 to individuals and $2,400 to couples, with $500 per dependent of any age. 

The GOP and Democrats are trying to resolve several other thorny issues in the legislation. Republicans did not put any new direct relief for state and local governments in their bill, while Democrats want nearly $1 trillion in aid. 

Republicans have also pushed for broad liability protections for companies, doctors and schools during the pandemic, a provision Democrats oppose. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told CNBC that “no bill will pass the Senate that doesn’t have the liability protection in it.”

After a meeting with Mnuchin and Meadows on Tuesday, Pelosi said the comments about legal immunity made McConnell sound “like a person who had no interest in having an agreement.” 

The shots continued Wednesday. Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell accused Democrats of posturing and threatening the extension of key aid measures. 

“Democrats would rather keep political issues alive than find bipartisan ways to resolve them,” he said. 

Schumer then criticized Republicans for putting together a plan that many members of the GOP do not support. He said it was “littered with corporate giveaways” and “presidential pet projects,” but did not include key aid such as rental, mortgage and food assistance. 

He also accused McConnell of operating in bad faith. 

“Time is short,” Schumer said. “Speaker Pelosi and I will be back at the negotiating table with the White House later today. It’s time for our Republican colleagues to roll up their sleeves and get serious as well.”

Correction: The U.S. has now reported more than 4.3 million cases and roughly 150,000 deaths related to Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. An earlier version misstated the figures.

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Mnuchin Unemployment

Mnuchin says GOP plan for unemployment extension will be based on ‘70% wage replacement’ – CNBC

The Republican coronavirus relief plan will extend enhanced unemployment insurance “based on approximately 70% wage replacement,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. 

The Treasury secretary also said a payroll tax holiday, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for, “won’t be in the base bill.” The president appeared to concede defeat on the issue in a tweet Thursday and blamed Democrats for sinking the proposal (though many Republicans on Capitol Hill also oppose a payroll tax cut). 

Mnuchin spoke to CNBC about the state of negotiations hours after Senate Republicans and the Trump administration said they reached a tentative deal on legislation they say will serve as a starting point in talks with Democrats. Congress faces pressure to pass an aid package, as Covid-19 case and death counts rise around the country and the critical extra $600 per week unemployment benefit expires at the end of the month. 

But Republican plans to release their plan as soon as Thursday appeared to hit a snag as they tried to craft legislative text, further adding to doubts about Congress’ ability to provide immediate relief. Democrats hammered the GOP for a lack of urgency for a second straight day, and rejected the possibility of breaking a coronavirus package into more than one bill if lawmakers cannot reach a broad agreement in July. 

“This is a package. We cannot piecemeal this,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters at a news conference with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. He added that “we’re not going to take care of one portion of suffering people and leave everyone else hanging.”

It is unclear how Republicans would structure the plan to provide 70% wage replacement. Lawmakers chose the $600 per week sum in the March rescue package because they decided outdated state unemployment systems could not handle processing payouts for 100% of a worker’s previous wages. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the GOP was considering slashing the extra benefit from about $600 to $100 a week through the rest of the year, sources told CNBC. Negotiators had not made any final decisions at that time. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the House Small Business Committee at the U.S. Capitol on July 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Pelosi told reporters that she will push to continue the $600 weekly payment. 

“I go to the table with a commitment to the $600,” she said. 

Speaking to CNBC after Mnuchin’s comments, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said 70% wage replacement is not “the policy we ought to pursue.” He said that “if we’re going to ratchet that down, it ought to be over time.” But he added that “it’s not a dealbreaker.” 

The developing GOP bill is only one step in what could be an arduous process to pass a package to boost a health-care system and economy devastated by the pandemic. As Democrats and Republicans try to hash out a range of disagreements — and Republicans try to come to a consensus even among themselves — millions of Americans wait to see whether they will have enough money to pay for food and housing. 

Mnuchin spoke just before the Labor Department said initial jobless claims topped 1.4 million last week, the 18th straight week they totaled more than 1 million. 

Here are other provisions of the Republican plan, according to Mnuchin: 

  • $105 billion to help schools reopen, with funds partly dependent on schools reopening
  • A targeted additional round of the Paycheck Protection Program, with “second checks” for certain companies whose revenues are down more than 50%
  • $16 billion in new funding for coronavirus testing
  • Tax credits to encourage companies to hire workers 
  • More flexibility for state and local governments in how they spend federal relief, but no new aid 
  • Direct payments to individuals (though he did not specify the amount paid or eligibility)

Hoyer said not approving additional aid for states and municipalities jeopardizes jobs and essential services in areas where governments have lost significant revenue and incurred huge expenses because of the pandemic. Democrats included nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments in the $3 trillion rescue package the House approved in May. Republicans did not take it up in the Senate. 

The GOP will need Democrats to sign off on any plan, as they control the House and have the ability to block the Republican proposal in the Senate. 

Republicans want the package to cost roughly $1 trillion. Pelosi has called that level of spending insufficient to address the health and economic crisis created by the pandemic. 

Congress appears unlikely to meet a deadline to extend the $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefit passed in March, which expires at the end of the month. The weekly sum has helped to buoy tens of millions of jobless Americans while many businesses are closed to slow the outbreak’s spread. 

The scramble to pass more relief legislation comes as U.S. Covid-19 cases approach 4 million and deaths from the disease top 143,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Its unabated spread has forced many states to either pause or roll back their economic reopening plans. 

Mnuchin noted that the administration would consider an additional relief package if the spending in the developing plan does not go far enough to combat the crisis. 

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Mnuchin says administration backs ‘another round’ of coronavirus stimulus checks – Fox News

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the Trump administration supports issuing another round of stimulus checks to Americans as part of a fourth coronavirus relief package, and vowed to enact legislation by the end of the month.

Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC that he would not provide “specific details,” but added that the administration is engaged in conversations with congressional leaders.

“We do support another round of economic impact payments,” Mnuchin said. “We’re discussing the criteria with the Senate, and had a productive talk with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

Mnuchin added that the administration will work “on a bipartisan basis with Republicans and Democrats,” and said it is a “priority” to have legislation passed by July 20.

President Trump told Fox Business Network earlier this month that he supported another round of stimulus checks, which he signaled could be for even larger amounts than the up to $1,200 per person many Americans received earlier this year. However, not all Republicans—specifically those who are more fiscally conservative—are on the same page.

TRUMP SUPPORTS STIMULUS PAYMENTS LARGER THAN $1,200

Meanwhile, Mnuchin also noted that the administration wants “to incentivize people to go back to work,” while addressing the issue of unemployment benefits.

“They are intended for people who do not have jobs,” Mnuchin said. “We will not be doing it in the same way. We’re in a different situation. Businesses reopened and want to hire.”

Republican lawmakers have ramped up warnings that the recent boost in jobless benefits amid the pandemic will “push unemployment higher,” as many individuals are able to collect more money through the unemployment programs than they made while on the job.

Under the “Phase 3” economic stimulus package passed in March, also known as the CARES Act, Congress provided $250 billion to extend unemployment insurance to more workers, and lengthen the duration of benefits to 39 weeks from the normal 26 weeks. The provision provided for an extra $600 for four months to those who lost their jobs amid the crisis.

MNUCHIN SAYS EMPLOYEES WHO REJECT OFFER TO RETURN TO WORK ARE INELIGABLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

The CARES Act also introduced a “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” program, which extended unemployment benefits to self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and other individuals not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits who were unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19.

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The generous payments are temporary, however, and are slated to end on July 31.

Mnuchin warned earlier this year that that individuals who reject an offer from their company to return to work after being laid off due to coronavirus are no longer considered eligible to receive federal unemployment benefits.

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