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Mnuchin Pelosi

Mnuchin and Pelosi Revive Stimulus Talks as Democrats Call for Compromise Bill Before Election – Newsweek

As Democrats begin drafting a new scaled-back stimulus proposal in an attempt to break the months-long partisan stalemate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Thursday agreed to revive relief talks.

“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR and we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” Mnuchin said during a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

“We’ll be hopefully soon at the table with them,” Pelosi later told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We’re ready for a negotiation. That’s what we’re ready for.”

Her remarks came as top Democrats on Thursday confirmed that they were creating a fresh stimulus proposal to break the deadlock. The measure is expected to be roughly $2.4 trillion—a compromise between the $3 trillion Democrat-proposed HEROES Act and the $1 trillion Republican-proposed HEALS Act.

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Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on August 7, 2020.
Alex Wong/Getty

A group of moderate Democrats circulated a letter addressed to Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Thursday calling on the party to “continue bipartisan negotiations with our Republican colleagues and the Administration, so that we may deliver meaningful relief for the American people.”

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chairman of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Dean Phillips, urged Democratic leaders to fix the stimulus issue before the November 3 election.

“It is essential that we send the Senate a compromise bill before the election that is reasonable and that can be signed into law by the President of the United States,” the moderates wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill. “Passing a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package should be our number one priority in the coming days.”

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Newsweek reached out to Pelosi’s office for comment.

Both sides of the political aisle blame each other for their inability to pass another stimulus package amid the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats have condemned the GOP for failing to provide sufficient funding and Republicans have accused Democrats of using COVID to advance their political agenda.

“The economic impact payments must be made because the rent must be paid,” Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas said during a Congressional hearing with Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday. “If we do not do this, we will put persons at risk of being evicted at a time when we are having a pandemic that is still taking lives in this country.”

A recent Financial Times-Peterson Foundation poll found that 89 percent of American voters believed another stimulus bill was needed to offset the financial implications of COVID. Of those, 39 percent said that both parties are “equally responsible for the failure” to get it done. More than a quarter—26 percent—said Republicans are deserve more blame, while 23 percent said Democrats are more responsible.

Newsweek reached out to Pelosi’s office for comment.

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blasts Pelosi

Pelosi blasts GOP ‘skinny’ deals, doubles down on call for large coronavirus stimulus package – CNBC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday morning that she remains opposed to Republican efforts to pass a smaller version of her party’s coronavirus stimulus plan despite the looming 2020 election and economic fallout from the pandemic.

Asked by CNBC’s Jim Cramer if she’d be willing to pass a “skinny” deal now and reconvene with Republicans on outstanding issues later, Pelosi fired back that “there is no later with this administration.”

“This is the opportunity. And the skinny deal is a Republican bill: That’s not a deal at all,” Pelosi said on “Squawk on the Street.” “They’re making a skinny — in fact, Chuck Schumer and I call it an emaciated — proposal for a massive problem.”

“We can fiscally spend the appropriate amount of money to meet the needs of the American people,” she added. “And by the way: It’s stimulus. We are a consumer economy and the more we have, whether it’s food stamps or unemployment insurance … that is stimulus to the economy.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The speaker touted the $3 trillion bill the House passed in May known as the Heroes Act. That legislation would allot nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments, a second round of direct payments of $1,200 per person and an extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit that expired at the end of July.

Republicans looking for a compromise, such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have said they want to keep the price tag of the developing bill around $1 trillion thanks to better economic data and out of budgetary concerns.

The cumulative federal budget deficit for the first 11 months of fiscal 2020 was $3 trillion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a result of intensified government spending to support the economy through the Covid-19 shutdown.

But Pelosi’s insistence on a larger deal may put fellow Democrats in a tough position, with many members of the House who won seats from Republicans in 2018 in tough reelection battles. Those representatives may find their races even more difficult if they return home to voters without any additional pandemic assistance enacted into law.

For their part, Republicans failed to advanced their own “skinny” bill last week in the Senate after all Democrats present voted against a procedural measure. That bill, though far smaller than the Heroes Act, would have reimposed enhanced federal unemployment insurance at a rate of $300 per week, half of the $600 weekly payment that expired at the end of July. Democrats said it didn’t go far enough.

Hoping to restart the stalled negotiations and underscoring the need to return to voters with a material boost to Covid relief, the House Problem Solvers Caucus on Tuesday released a coronavirus relief plan produced with input from both parties.

“Having seen no progress on a new COVID-19 relief package in four months, and in recognition of Americans’ increasing suffering, the Problem Solvers Caucus (PSC) has developed a comprehensive, bipartisan framework to meet the nation’s needs for the next 6-12 months, that can pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the President,” the caucus said in a release.

The caucus’s proposal includes $450 per week in federal unemployment benefits for eight weeks, $500 billion in state and local relief, direct payments to American workers and additional Paycheck Protection Program funds. As the proposal includes provisions both major parties have opposed, it is unclear whether it can gain traction with congressional leaders.

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Pelosi Warns

Pelosi warns ‘no chance’ of US-UK trade deal if Brexit undermines Good Friday accord – Fox News

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday warned that there would be “no chance” of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal if the U.K. were to undermine the 1998 Good Friday Irish peace accord as it battles with the European Union over the fallout from Brexit.

“Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the stability brought by the invisible and frictionless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The U.K. must respect the Northern Ireland Protocol as signed with the EU to ensure the free flow of goods across the border.”

UK BILL TO OVERRIDE BREXIT AGREEMENT WOULD BREAK INTERNATIONAL LAW SHOULD NEGOTIATIONS FAIL, OFFICIALS SAY 

The Good Friday Agreement brought an end to “The Troubles” that dogged Ireland for decades, and brought closer cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland — including allowing people in Northern Ireland to identify as Irish, British or both.

Pelosi was reacting to an ongoing feud between U.K. and E.U. officials over Britain’s departure from the bloc. The U.K. formally left the E.U. in January after signing a withdrawal agreement that includes a complex arrangement for trade and movement between Ireland (an E.U. member) and Northern Ireland — in order to avoid a “hard” border between the two.

Keeping the border open was a key issue of the 1998 agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland after decades of violence between those who wanted a united Ireland and those who wanted it to remain part of the U.K.

As talks for a free trade agreement between the E.U. and the U.K. have stalled, Britain has threatened to override parts of last year’s withdrawal agreement. A new bill put forward by the government would rewrite parts of the agreement, although officials have claimed the effect would be “limited.”

According to the BBC, the new bill proposed would mean no checks on goods from Ireland to the rest of the U.K. and would give ministers powers to modify or “disapply” rules relating to the movement of goods if there is no free trade deal. It says those powers apply even if incompatible with international law.

It has led to fears that the 1998 agreement could be at risk, fears echoed by Pelosi on Wednesday.

“If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress,” she said. “The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress.”

EU, UK TRY AGAIN TO BREAK DEADLOCK ON POST-BREXIT TIES 

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference at Downing Street, London, Wednesday Sept. 9, 2src2src, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 3src people to six. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference at Downing Street, London, Wednesday Sept. 9, 2020, following the announcement that the legal limit on social gatherings is set to be reduced from 30 people to six. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, pushed back on similar claims on Wednesday, saying the move was to protect, not undermine, the agreement from “extreme” interpretations from Brussels.

“My job is to uphold the integrity of the UK, but also to protect the Northern Irish peace process and the Good Friday Agreement,” he said in the House of Commons. “To do that, we need a legal safety net to protect our country against extreme or irrational interpretations of the protocol which could lead to a border down the Irish sea in a way that I believe, and I think members around the House believe, would be prejudicial to the interests of the Good Friday Agreement and prejudicial to the interests of peace in our country.”

It isn’t the first time Pelosi has threatened to torpedo a U.S.-U.K. trade deal — something that is seen by many as vitally important for Britain’s post-E.U. economic future.

Last year, she made similar remarks to the Irish Parliament.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must ensure that nothing happens in Brexit discussions that imperils the Good Friday accord – including, but not limited to, the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland,” she said.

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“Let me be clear: if the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday accords, there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement,” she said.

It’s in contrast to the position of President Trump and many Republicans, who have been bullish about the possibilities of an agreement between the U.S. and the U.K.

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Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi in face-covering row after salon visit – The Guardian

Nancy Pelosi has been photographed in a San Francisco hair salon without a face covering, breaking the city’s coronavirus prevention rules.

Security camera footage, which was obtained by Fox News, shows the Democratic House speaker without a mask on her face as she walked through the salon.

Salons in San Francisco have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, with limited outdoor operations beginning only on Tuesday. The footage, showing Pelosi walking through the eSalon with a face mask around her neck, was filmed during an appointment on Monday.

Pelosi has regularly told US citizens to wear masks and follow the guidelines intended to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The salon’s owner, Erica Kious, said one of her hairstylists who rented a chair at the business had opened it especially for Pelosi’s appointment.

“It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” Kious told Fox News.

“We have been shut down for so long, not just me, but most of the small businesses and I just can’t – it’s a feeling – a feeling of being deflated, helpless and honestly beaten down,” she added.

Kious said that according to her interpretation of the coronavirus safety precautions blow-drying hair was prohibited for salons.

She added: “I have been fighting for six months for a business that took me 12 years to build to reopen,” she said. “I am a single mom, I have two small children, and I have no income.

“We’re supposed to look up to this woman, right? It is just disturbing.”

A spokesman for Pelosi, Drew Hammill, responded that the Californian congresswoman had not realised she was breaking her home city’s virus prevention rules.

“This business offered for the speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business,” he said, adding: “The speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment.”

Donald Trump weighed in on Wednesday morning.

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

Crazy Nancy Pelosi is being decimated for having a beauty parlor opened, when all others are closed, and for not wearing a Mask – despite constantly lecturing everyone else. We will almost certainly take back the House, and send Nancy packing!

September 2, 2020

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Pelosi stimulus

Pelosi says stimulus talks are complicated by ‘complete disarray on the Republican side’ – CNN

(CNN)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday continued her blame of Republicans for the stalemate in negotiations over another round of coronavirus relief funding for Americans.

In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Saturday, the Democratic leader said that progress on the negotiations is “complicated by the complete disarray on the Republican side — as President Donald Trump contradicts his own negotiators and his own position.”
She criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans for refusing to provide further funding for states and local governments, which she called a “significant obstacle” inside negotiations.
Pelosi’s letter marked the three-month anniversary of the House’s passage of Democrats’ $3.4 trillion stimulus package, the HEROES Act.
Both the House and the Senate are now in recess until September without passing a stimulus bill after weeks-long negotiations between the Trump administration and Democrats broke down. If there is a deal on the stimulus, however, members will have 24-hour notice to return for votes.
Later in the day, Trump said at a press conference from his Bedminster club in New Jersey that he would meet with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when the time is right, but insisted that Americans can “happily live with or without” another congressional stimulus bill despite the fact that many Americans have relied on the government assistance after the economy was upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
When a reporter asked the President why he has not met with the top Democratic congressional leadership, he responded, “When it’s right I’ll meet, but right now it’s not right.”
On Friday, a small group of members of the House’s bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus spoke with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about how to end the impasse, and plan to continue future discussions.
“We had a productive, hour-long discussion about ways to help break the logjam between the parties, get negotiators back in the room, and help America in our response to the Covid crisis. We anticipate future meetings,” a person on the call told CNN.
Other members on the call were caucus co-chairs Tom Reed and Josh Gottheimer, and Reps. Dean Phillips, Abigail Spanberger, Jimmy Panetta, and Anthony Gonzalez.
Republicans and Democrats are trillions of dollars apart on a topline cost and blame one another for the deadlock.
McConnell has accused Democrats for having “sabotaged” talks with “absurd demands that would not help working people.”
Senate Republicans late last month proposed their own $1 trillion plan.
Pelosi called for the GOP to increase its offer by $1 trillion and said she’d go down by $1 trillion — allowing them to negotiate a deal around the $2 trillion range.
But Pelosi’s proposal lacks White House support and Senate Republican leaders believe a bill with that price tag wouldn’t pass their chamber.
Last weekend, Trump bypassed Congress, signing four executive actions on coronavirus relief, one of which would provide as much as $400 in enhanced unemployment benefits but is likely to meet challenges in court.
This story has been updated to include remarks from Trump’s Saturday news conference.

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Pelosi says Democrats willing to compromise at $2T for coronavirus bill, rejected by Trump admin – Fox News

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that Democrats were willing to compromise at $2 trillion for the fourth coronavirus stimulus package, but that the Trump administration rejected their offer.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that Democrats have been “mightily trying to find common ground.”

KUDLOW BELIEVES TRUMP WILL USE EXECUTIVE ACTION FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF

“We’ll take down a trillion, if you add a trillion,” Pelosi said Friday. “They said absolutely not. Then we would be in range.”

Senate Republicans are pushing a package with a price tag of approximately $1 trillion, while Democrats’ HEROES Act, which passed in May, reaches about $3.4 trillion. Republicans and Democrats have reached a stalemate in negotiations, prompting President Trump to float the possibility of taking executive action to provide some economic relief to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged on Friday that the idea of the White House and Republicans adding $1 trillion to their price tag for the fourth package was a “a non-starter.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that it is Republicans who are “stuck.”

“You should have seen their faces,” he said. “They’re the ones stuck.”

Schumer also slammed the possibility of Trump signing an executive order to address some issues he has prioritized, such as a payroll tax cut and other provisions.

“The biggest problem with executive orders is not what they do, but who they leave out,” Schumer said, pointing to Democrats’ push for further coronavirus testing, treatment and contact tracing to be included in the legislation.

The president this week said he would not hesitate to take executive action if talks on Capitol Hill came to a stalemate.

The president also tweeted this week: “I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options.”

Trump said he was considering taking executive action to halt evictions and suspend payroll taxes.

PELOSI CALLS CORONAVIRUS ‘TRUMP VIRUS’ FOLLOWING REVIVED WHITE HOUSE TASK FORCE BRIEFING

“A lot of people are going to be evicted, but I’m going to stop it because I’ll do it myself if I have to,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders, and we’re looking at that very seriously right now.”

There are some 110 million Americans living in rental households; up to 23 million renters – or 20 percent – are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to an analysis by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.

With the supplemental $600 in unemployment benefits now officially lapsed, about 24 million Americans say they have little to no chance of being able to pay next month’s rent, according to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Rent and mortgage payments are typically the largest monthly expense for Americans: One in four tenant families pays more than half of its income for rent, a rate that’s even higher in cities like San Francisco and New York, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“They’re thrown out viciously,” Trump said. “It’s not their fault.”

The president similarly suggested that he could use his executive authority to lower payroll taxes — a proposal that he’s advocated for since the beginning of the virus-induced economic crisis, but one that has garnered little support from both Democrats and Republicans.

“I can do that also through executive order, so we’ll be talking about that,” Trump said.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report. 

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Mnuchin Pelosi

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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McConnell Pelosi

Pelosi and McConnell hurtling toward coronavirus relief showdown – POLITICO

A few hours later Wednesday, Pelosi sought to claim an initial victory by arguing Republicans have significantly shifted their thinking since calling for a “pause” when the House passed its bill in May. But the California Democrat also made clear what McConnell is proposing right now isn’t nearly good enough.

“There’s a recognition that there’s going to be a bill,” Pelosi told reporters. “They went from zero to now $1.3 [trillion]. That’s not enough, we need more. But we see the public evolution of their thinking.”

Pelosi said Democrats’ behemoth bill largely doesn’t need to be adjusted, even as coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in a majority of states over the last month. But Democrats might make a push for extra education money in current talks as President Donald Trump continues to demand schools reopen in the fall.

“We put our marker on the table. It’s very disciplined, it’s nothing more than we need,” Pelosi said. “Although, I must say we may need more for education now that the president is making the demand that he is making.”

While Congress has already pumped more than $2.5 trillion in coronavirus relief into the economy via four bills — including a giant $2 trillion rescue package in March — McConnell has acknowledged that another bipartisan deal will be harder to reach given the political climate.

With 111 days until the election, McConnell must govern a divided caucus, with a number of Senate Republicans shunning additional government spending while vulnerable members up in 2020 are pleading to get something done before the August recess.

Both parties know that the forthcoming coronavirus package is likely to be the last before the November election, increasing pressure to squeeze in demands before going home to campaign amid a pandemic-induced recession.

“If McConnell has any hope of hanging onto his majority, he’s got to show leadership and responsiveness and he can’t do that by writing a Republican only bill,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) “We’re going to have to find bipartisan answers to these issues.”

Senate Democrats have spent weeks criticizing McConnell for not acting sooner. During a caucus call this week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told members that there’s been no outreach yet from McConnell and insisted that Senate Democrats will only negotiate if House Democrats are involved, according to a source on the call.

“Senator McConnell ought to be working across the aisle to prevent mass evictions, a new hunger crisis, and the layoff of more essential state and local government employees — all things that will happen if Republicans continue to delay action or act stingily,” Schumer warned in a statement to POLITICO.

One Senate Republican aide seemed stunned that his own party was blocking more coronavirus relief spending just over 100 days from an election where the majority is clearly in jeopardy and the economy is weak.

“It’s usually the minority that is blocking bills before an election, not the majority,” complained the aide. “It’s like they’re offering us cake, but we say, ‘No, we want the broccoli.’”

But Senate GOP leaders argue that much of the money allocated in the March CARES Act has yet to be spent and they want the next package to be more targeted.

While McConnell has told colleagues he wants to keep the price tag for the package at around $1 trillion, some in his caucus are open to spending more if needed.

In an interview, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted that the next package would “probably not” be as large as the $2 trillion CARES package. But Graham added that he wants to “go big” and consider proposals like infrastructure or a payroll tax cut, both of which appear to have limited support in the GOP caucus.

“What’s different with Phase 4 and Phase 3? Phase 4 needs to be about jumpstarting the economy, building on the momentum of going back to work,” Graham said. “Phase 3 was a rescue package, Phase 4 needs to be a stimulus package.”

In a sign of the difficulties facing Congress, lawmakers can’t even agree what round of relief they are currently negotiating. Some classify the last $484 billion relief bill passed in April as only an “interim” measure and describe the current talks as “phase 4.” Other members refer to this round as “phase 5” because it will be the fifth coronavirus-focused bill.

Among the key sticking points will be addressing the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits in the March CARES Act. Democrats want to see those benefits extended and are suggesting tying unemployment benefits to economic conditions. Senate Republicans, however, say the increase in unemployment benefits provide a disincentive for people to return to work.

A potential compromise could center around “return to work” incentives. Regardless, the additional benefits for most people are likely to lapse, at least temporarily, before a deal gets struck. While the March law authorizes the extra benefits through the end of the month, the money will effectively stop being paid out on July 25 under the way most state unemployment systems are set up.

House Democrats are also pushing for a boost in food aid, another round of stimulus checks to individuals and nearly $1 trillion in state and local assistance — non-starters for most Senate Republicans.

Adding to the uncertainty is what message the White House will send up to the Hill. Trump is making reopening schools a key focus, even going so far as to suggest that he’d withhold federal funds from schools that failed to reopen — a threat that has outraged Democrats.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in an interview that he wants to see schools re-open, but he noted “the expenses of school don’t go away because you’re teaching at a distance, as opposed to teaching in a classroom.”

Blunt, who is also working with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on bills to fund the government for the next fiscal year, added that “100 days before a presidential election almost everything is a political sticking point.”



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Pelosi Trump

Pelosi: Trump ‘crossed a bridge’ when he donned mask – POLITICO

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill. | (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump “crossed a bridge” when he donned a mask in public for the first time over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday. Pelosi called the move an “admission” that masks help stop the spread of Covid-19 during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trump’s trip to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday marked the first time the Republican president wore a mask in public. The decision was a departure from Trump’s past refusal to wear a face covering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending Americans wear masks in public to stop the spread of Covid-19 in April.

“He’s crossed a bridge. That’s an admission that if you’re going to see our soldiers, you have to wear a mask. If you’re going to be with our children, you have to wear a mask. If you want to stop the spread of the coronavirus, you have to wear a mask,” Pelosi said on Sunday. “So hopefully by his example, he will change his attitude, which will be helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”

During the interview, Pelosi called for more federal funding to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including extending unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of July. The cost of the pandemic has surged past the first $8.3 billion coronavirus package the House passed in March, which Pelosi said at that time would address the scale of the pandemic.

Pelosi said on Sunday that she did not initially underestimate the scope of the pandemic, and instead pointed to Trump, who she said was in “denial” about the virus. Pelosi has faced criticism — particularly on the right — for her Feb. 24 visit to Chinatown in San Francisco, where she encouraged people not to be afraid to come there because of Covid-19.

“What we did was at that exact time was writing the first Covid bill, which we brought to the floor and passed on March 4th. It was about testing, testing, testing. Because if you don’t test, you don’t have a handle on what the problem is,” Pelosi said.

“We were writing the bill to find out what the threat was to us, while the president was saying delay, denial, calling it a hoax and causing deaths.”