Some Concessions Made, But Negotiators Still Far Apart On Stimulus Package

( With another day of negotiations in the book, White House officials and Democrats are still no closer to a deal on the fifth coronavirus stimulus package.

The biggest sticking point is reportedly the total price tag. Republicans want to limit the spending to around $1 trillion. Democrats are sticking to their proposal of more than $3 trillion.

According to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff,” a breakthrough is needed to break the current impasse. Following the meeting on Wednesday with him, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Meadows said:

“I can just tell you that there are no top-line numbers that have been agreed to. We continue to be, you know, trillions of dollars apart in terms of what Democrats and Republicans hopefully will ultimately compromise on.”

For his part, Mnuchin said they’d need to see “some real compromise on some of the big issues” if a deal were to be reached sometime soon. He continued:

“If we can reach a compromise on these big issues, I think everything else will fall into place. If we can’t reach an agreement on these mitigations, then I don’t see us coming to an overall deal. And then we’ll have to look at the president taking actions under his executive authority.”

Meadows explained that President Donald Trump plans to take action to extend the federal boost to unemployment benefits and the moratorium on evictions if a deal is unable to be reached. It’s unclear whether the president holds such power, though. Congress is the government body that controls all federal funding.

White House officials reportedly have already made concessions on the unemployment front. Democrats originally proposed extending the current $600 per week boost to unemployment through the end of the year. Senate Republicans proposed reducing that amount to $200 per week through the end of September, and then changing it to 70% of a person’s wages.

On Tuesday, White House officials made an offer to change the unemployment boost to $400 and have it run through December. The White House also compromised by offering to extend the eviction moratorium into December.

On the other side, Democrats reportedly reduced their request to the U.S. Postal Service from $25 billion to $10 billion.

Following Wednesday’s meeting, Pelosi emphasized that any deal Democrats would agree to would have to give direct financial assistance to individuals, aid in helping schools to re-open, and address funding gaps that local and state governments are experiencing.

She said:

“I feel optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but how long that tunnel is remains to be seen.”

This same foursome is scheduled to meet next later on Thursday afternoon. The group self-imposed a deadline of this Friday to get an agreement in principle in place so that a formal bill could be drafted then sent to both chambers of Congress at some point next week.

Whether that’s realistic or not depends on whether the group can make some substantial progress on Thursday.