Trump Says Republicans, Democrats Far Apart in Stimulus Talks

The $1 trillion stimulus plan that Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell scrambled to produce is underwhelming at best and a joke at worst writes Sun Sentinel columnist Randy Schultz. The plan slices unemployment rejects aid to states and strong-arms

The president and Mr. Mnuchin on Wednesday called for a short-term coronavirus relief bill to extend unemployment benefits and prevent housing evictions. "They're not making the payments; they're not making them high enough".

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters after meeting with Democratic leaders on Wednesday that the two sides are "nowhere close to a deal" on a coronavirus stimulus bill, acknowledging that extra unemployment benefits will expire on Friday. Democrats say Trump is trying to protect his Washington hotel, which is across the street from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

After the cancellation of plans to build a new FBI campus in the suburbs, Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, opened an investigation into the decision to scrap those plans. He added: "It's the best piece of property in Washington". "I'm very good at real estate", he told reporters.

"We're looking at a deadline obviously of this Friday, " Mnuchin said.

"Republicans should go back to school and learn", he told reporters at the White House.

In 2018, GSA switched tack, proposing instead to tear the building down and build a new one on the same site, a scheme championed by Trump.

"They managed to have enough money for $2 billion dollars for the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters that benefits Trump hotel and they say they have no money for food assistance?" said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. We want to take care of the people, he added.

Democrats want to extend a federal eviction moratorium on millions of rental units that is expiring Friday, but Republicans are silent on evictions.

Mr. Mnuchin said negotiators are "very far apart" in discussions that started Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds sway because Republicans are so deeply divided over the prospect of big government spending that McConnell is left with a severely weakened hand. But the outcome will be a defining one for the president and the parties heading into the November election as an uneasy nation is watching and waiting for Washington to bring some end to the health crisis and devastating economic fallout.

Republicans have been pushing to slash the emergency benefit down to $200 a week, claiming the larger figure has discouraged recipients from returning to work during the height of a pandemic. Democrats have shown flickers of willingness to curb the federal aid but held firm in first-round talks.

For example, the Republican proposal includes $260 million for the Expeditionary Fast Transport ship program, from which the Trump administration shifted $261 million as it reprogrammed funds to pay for the wall. Democrats proposed almost $1 trillion to avert municipal layoffs, but Republicans prefer providing them with flexibility in previously approved aid. Trump hasn't specified what he's willing to do on that.

The virus toll continued to mount in the US, with 4.4 million confirmed cases and deaths passing 150,000.

"Republicans have dithered for the ten weeks since we passed the #HeroesAct".

However, McConnell reminded host Martha MacCallum, "in the Democratic bill over in the House, they've got a tax cut for rich people in blue states".

But he's coming to the negotiating table with half the GOP senators expected to oppose any virus relief deal, and the Democrats swiftly rebuffed his demand, telling the White House negotiators to ask if he was serious.

Republicans seek $16 billion for virus testing; Democrats want $75 billion.

The Republican proposal would also provide another round of $1,200 direct payments based on the same formula from the earlier aid bill.



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