The Corner

Fiscal Policy

COVID-Relief Talks March On, Slowly

Last week I wrote a piece and a blog post about the effort to extend COVID relief. A $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits expired at the end of July, but Senate Republicans waited until the last minute to introduce a proposal, and there was a $2 trillion gap between that proposal and the bill the House Democrats had passed.

A week later, the two sides are still slowly working their way to a compromise, as CNBC reports:

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that during a Thursday night meeting she offered to cut her desired aid price tag by $1 trillion if Republicans increased the size of their plan by $1 trillion. The Trump administration declined, she said.

Pelosi added that she could cut back spending by making some programs expire earlier than originally proposed. House Democrats passed a roughly $3 trillion relief package in May, and Republicans last week proposed a bill that costs about $1 trillion.

Neither House nor Senate Democrats would accept legislation that puts “south of $2 trillion” into the pandemic response, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday. Entering Pelosi’s office, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said boosting the cost of the GOP plan by $1 trillion is a “non-starter,” making it unclear where the sides could find common ground.

After the more than three-hour meeting Thursday night, Pelosi, Schumer, Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows painted a dismal picture of aid talks that have accomplished little over a week and a half.

Yikes. I noted in my original piece that a $2 trillion gap might be difficult to close, but I wasn’t expecting things to drag on this long with key aid provisions expired.

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