To be clear, the Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, offered another relief package in late May. It was filled with spending on special interest items and cost $3.5 trillion, but it was right there for everyone to see.
The Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate, didn’t pass their own version until late July, just days before the federal unemployment bonus benefits expired. The Republican version was much more modest, clocking in at a mere $1 trillion.
The Republicans offered to pass a “skinny bill,” one that addresses just continued federal unemployment benefits and a few other things, but the Democrats have balked. At first, they said $3.5 trillion or nothing, but now say they’ll come back to negotiate if the Republicans offer to spend at least $2 trillion. That hasn’t gone anywhere, either.
Now the White House is pushing Congress to take up another narrow coronavirus economic relief bill, asking the Democrats to use their vote on Saturday to pass funding for stimulus relief checks for individuals and funding for personal protection equipment for schools.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said:
“I think the outlook for a skinny deal is better than it’s ever been and yet we are still not there. If Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi moves forward a single bill on postal … let’s add in the things we can agree upon.”
The Democrats don’t seem anxious to take up the cause.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said that he does not expect the White House to get serious about negotiations until after next week’s Republican presidential election convention.
“Once we get out of the Republican convention, the week before Labor Day, you’re going to see serious negotiations restart. And that means we could do something possibly right after Labor Day, when we return.”
The Senate reconvenes on September 8 and the House on September 14.
Meanwhile, unemployed Americans will have to figure out how to pay their rent and feed their families.