Mnuchin says Congress is “a long way” away from reaching an agreement on the coronavirus bill

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Democrats and Republicans are “very far” from reaching an agreement on the upcoming coronavirus response legislation, as several relief measures passed in March expire. The stalemate in the negotiations comes as the expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefit that paid jobless Americans an additional $ 600 a week ended on July 25, so unemployed workers will now see smaller checks.

“As of now, we are very far apart. And so the president and we have discussed a short-term extension of the user interface and evictions, so we have a period to negotiate before this runs out.” Mnuchin said. she told reporters at a news conference about the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows later told reporters that he did not believe that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were in a “state negotiating spirit. ” Meadows said Republicans and Democrats are “still miles away on a number of issues” and “there are more issues where we are separate than where we are closer to consensus.”

“In talking to President Pelosi and Senator Schumer, they don’t seem to be in a negotiating mood. In fact, I think they are more entrenched than they were a week ago.” I am not optimistic that we will come to any kind of comprehensive agreement, “Meadows said.

Because the eviction moratorium also expired at the same time, many Americans are also facing another looming crisis: Those who cannot pay rent by the end of the month may be evicted from their homes.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Congress approved extensive aid in March through the CARES Act, which included the $ 600 unemployment insurance provision. Several Republicans opposed the benefit because it meant that many would receive more money while unemployed than if they were working. However, some experts say this concern is wrong.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell legislation introduced on Monday that would provide an additional $ 200 a week for unemployed Americans on top of unemployment insurance, until states can figure out a formula to replace 70% of workers’ wages, with about 50% of wages replaced by states and 20% by the federal government. However, several Republicans still oppose the bill because they think its $ 1 trillion price is too high.

House Democrats proposed and passed their own $ 3 trillion bill in May, which would reset the $ 600 a week and provide another round of direct payments to Americans. Pelosi has repeatedly said he is against approving a short-term “interval” extension of UI benefits.

President Trump blamed Democrats for not offering enough for Americans, even though Democratic legislation would provide more money to extend UI benefits than the Republican bill.

“Democrats are not taking care of the people. The payments are not enough. The payments are not enough. You understand that. They are not making the payments; they are not making them high enough,” Mr. Trump said.

Meanwhile, McConnell said Tuesday that he would leave negotiations with Democrats to Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. McConnell has such liability protections It should be included in the next bill, promising that it will not bring any legislation to the Senate that does not include these protections.