Trump, GOP Suggest Temporary Fix For $600 Jobless Benefit

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President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talk before Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington. Trump is en route to Texas. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and some of its Republican allies in the Senate are signaling they want to extend, at least temporarily, a $600-per-week expanded jobless benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The move looks to be too little, too late to prevent the lapse of the benefit officially on Friday.

Republicans have been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but President Donald Trump and some Senate Republicans suggested they could accept keeping the full $600 benefit for now. Late-night talks were expected at the Capitol.

“We want a temporary extension of enhanced unemployment benefits,” Trump said at the White House. “This will provide a critical bridge for Americans who lost their jobs to the pandemic through no fault of their own.”

He added: “It has to be substantial.”

But Democrats have so far rejected a piecemeal approach, saying the next relief bill needs to move as a complete package. Before Trump spoke, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell adjourned the chamber for the weekend while taking a procedural step that could allow voting on a potential compromise next week. Talks so far have yielded little progress.

“I’m not very optimistic that we will have any kind of an agreement on a comprehensive bill in the near future,” said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. He said he even doubted a deal could be struck next week.

Talks on the relief bill are at a standstill with few reasons for optimism despite sweeping agreement among Washington’s top power players that Congress must pass further relief in coming days and weeks.

Trump is eager for another round of relief, and it’s also a priority for GOP allies like McConnell, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer. Democrats hold a strong negotiating hand, with Republicans badly divided over their own proposal.

Raising the stakes, a bleak government report released Thursday said the economy shrank at a 33% annualized rate in the second quarter of the year, a stark reminder of the economic damage afflicting the country as lawmakers debate the size and scope of new relief.

“This jarring news should compel Congress to move swiftly to provide targeted and temporary assistance to unemployed Americans, employers, and state and local governments, and liability protections for businesses who follow public health guidelines,” said Neal Bradley of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the powerful business group.

But bipartisan talks have yet to reach a serious, productive phase. Democrats are playing hardball, insisting on a package that’s far larger than the $1 trillion-plus measure unveiled by McConnell on Monday. Thursday brought more tit-for-tat.

“They won’t engage. Period,” McConnell said as he opened the Senate. “The Democrats are saying, my way or the highway.”

Pelosi and McConnell have an extensive history, however. They often find ways to reach deals, though the process involves intense maneuvering and plenty of cross-talk.

In an interview late Wednesday, McConnell showed a willingness to consider some Democratic priorities, like additional food aid. He and Trump have made plain they are intent on getting a bill.

“The economy does need more help. We have divided government. We have to talk to each other,” McConnell said on the PBS NewsHour. “And we have to try to get an outcome.”

Schumer continued his daily fusillade against McConnell and Republicans controlling the Senate, noting that McConnell “refuses to go in the room” and join the talks in person, instead transferring ownership of the talks to Meadows, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been a key architect of previous accords.

“We’re trying to negotiate,” Schumer said. “Who’s holding things up?”

In another signal that Republicans are preparing to yield on the $600 jobless benefit, Arizona Republican Martha McSally, who is facing a tough reelection race this fall, offered a one-week extension of the benefit on the Senate floor. Schumer blocked the move.

Pelosi was dashing back to Washington after having traveled to Atlanta for the funeral of Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon. Pelosi’s office announced a meeting for Thursday night with the White House negotiators.

Other stark differences remain between the $3 trillion proposal from Democrats and $1 trillion counter from Republicans. Money for states and cities is a crucial dividing line as local governments plead for help to shore up budgets and prevent deeper layoffs as they incur COVID-19 costs and lost tax revenue in shutdown economies.

Democrats proposed nearly $1 trillion for the local governments, but Trump and Republicans are resisting sending the states and cities more cash. Instead, the GOP offers states flexibility to use $150 billion previously allotted for the virus on other needs.

It’s clear that Democrats are trying to push an advantage in the negotiations because Republicans are so split over the prospect of additional government spending and jobless benefits. Among the issues sure to gather momentum is a Democratic demand for a 15% increase in food stamp benefits.

Trump has dismissed the GOP bill as “semi-irrelevant” since it leaves out so many Democratic items.

Trump appears worried about the expiration of the $600 unemployment benefit boost as well as an expiring federal eviction moratorium on millions of rental units, potentially sending households into devastating turmoil.

Trump has bristled at one provision of the GOP bill — he said his Republican allies should “go back to school and learn” after they balked at $1.7 billion for FBI headquarters. Trump wants the FBI’s central building to remain in Washington, across the street from his Trump International Hotel. If the FBI moved its headquarters, the site would become prime real estate for a competing hotel.

McConnell has rejected the FBI funding request — added to a $300 billion-plus appropriations package in private talks between Meadows and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala. — since it is unrelated to virus relief.

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17 COMMENTS

    • 150k dead, but sure, let’s thank the man in charge. Remember under Obama when TWO people died from Ebola and everyone was calling for his impeachment?

      • No, we don’t remember that, because it didn’t happen.

        As for the 150,000 – first of all, I know you claim to be an atheist, but the rest of us here know that ultimately it’s G-d Who decides who will live and who, r”l, not. Second, have you thought about how many of those are in states whose governors ran up the body count by doing things like sending infected patients to nursing homes?

        • In that case I presume you don’t care about abortion, and you don’t care that homicide rates have risen in NYC. G-d decides who will live and the murderers are just doing G-d’s will.

  1. $600 with no cap? So that lazys can go on summer vacation while I sweat and work earning less money . They should earn more than they did while working ? One who worked full time even at min wage gets over $25 an hour with this plus snap Medicaid. Wic etc … What kind of crazy country is this ?

    • The USA is a great country, where somebody who knows nothing about everything is able to comment 10 times a day while sweating and working.perhaps you should stifle yourself.

      • I know plenty and plenty about lots of things. Notice how your comments won’t address the issue.

        Wasting $600 so people are encouraged not to work. Silly country. But I guess I should not be surprised after the country lets people smash and terrorize midtown and then lick them by encourging them to do more

    • Sorry buddy. Life is not fair. If you don’t like it you’re free to move to a different country. I see you’re still jealous of those that make $800 a week. Those that make between 4k – 5k a week like a mensch, you’re not jealous of. Interesting. What are you so hung up on the shleppers about. Don’t you strive for higher aspirations. If you ain’t getting paid a living wage, start a different career. Stop obssesing over those that earn $800 a week and are on all the programs. It’s the law of the land. Is that who you aspire to be like?!

      • The difference is that those who make 4-5k are working for it, not just lazing around on the couch and having it deposited in their bank account for doing nothing. People are receiving more money without working than if they were working. How are we supposed to reopen like that? The government isn’t there to just throw money at you.

        • The Fed has been throwing trillions at the financial sector in order to prop up the stock market. The main beneficiaries of the earlier COVID relief packages were well off businesses. And of course the Trump Tax Scam gave another trillion to the well off.

          And you resent people who get $600.

          • Yes I do.

            Those were loans thats #1.
            2) They did not end up needing to make those loans because the banks saw the govt was backing it and they started leanding
            3) Thats very differnet. Those big companies hire millions of people to work for them.

            Yes I resent people who get $600 for nothing. How stupid and niave can you get? You really think this is smart?

      • Its not jealousy you fool. Its about ttaking my hard earne dmoney to pay loafers to do nothing and earn more than I do.

        How would you ilike it if I walked into your house and said give me money for not working

    • Helping those who are less well off is a Jewish value. And we are not supposed to resent those who get public charity. The Torah came through Moshe Rabbeinu not Ayn Rand.

      • Helping those who are less well off is a Jewish value

        1) they are not less well off. They are better off
        2) wehn they did need it and brings to batlaia and rioting in the streets due to boredrom its a secular not jewish value. This is where you corrked twisting judiams comes in. Its not a time to have mercy. Look up what happens when there is “batala” and ” no derech eretz”. Even AOC said they are rioting because they have no jobs., When goyim are bored its dangerous.

        Please stop with hyper Ayn Rand nonsense. Noone now is arguing to delineate social saftey networks. We are arguing not to pay people extra more than they need just “not to work”.

        Lstes repeat your first lie these people are NOT less well off. They are MORE well off than us wrokers.

        Wake up and stop lying.

        • “Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million annually through the federal program, known as Title X. Aug 19, 2019”

          Hmmm, the great Archie is silent. It doesn’t bother him that his hard earned money is going towards the dregs of society who want to murder their babies.
          There is so much tax money going for immoral purposes. Don’t give us your sanctimonious speeches about TAXPAYERS who are out of work due to Covid19 to no fault of their own. What you seem to forget, is that it’s NOT government money they are giving to the unemployed. It’s davka those that were working, that paid into the unemployment insurance, that are now getting back their OWN money. I don’t know about you, but every paycheck of mine, there is numerous things my State and Government siphon off. One of those things I pay is unemployment insurance, should I get layed off, I will have what to fall back on. Same thing with Medicare and social security. We are paying in to these programs for our use at a later date. Same thing with life insurance. Same thing with purchasing a warranty on expensive electronics. What you want, is that we should pay into all these programs and then when we need it, we shouldn’t get it. You’re way off base. The government doesn’t “have” money. It’s OUR money. We are allowed to ask for it back.
          Do we work for the government or does the government work for us? Why was the government created in the first place? Who asked for a government at all? What is its purpose and function.

          • Umm I have no complaints about unemployment during hard times . And I agree With you that you should get paid after you contributed toward your “
            Insurance policy “ paying “ premiums “ aka unemployment tax all the years .

            But that’s the regular unemployment not the pau. Not the extra $600. And I understand that chutch we should supplement up to more than 70% of your salary ( although you don’t need 100% since you save on transportation to work and other costs ) . You surely need to get more than a measly $500 a week (500 or so ) which is the cap.

            My beef is only with those who are earning More Than they earned or will ever earn working. For example take a min wage worker in ny. He earned $15 an hour . Now after covid he gets $27 an hour ? Plus he now gets snap , Medicaid etc .. why would he return to work ? How about the guy who freelanced and earned $300 a week , can now obtain $850 a week?
            It’s those kind of things I am against .

            I am not against the hard working accountant who use to walk home with $1100 Net income after working 60 hours a week and now wants to get the same to help him live

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