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Democrats Want Another Trillion For COVID Relief Bill


Image by Glenn Fawcett

Secretary Mnuchin has been busy making the rounds on Capitol Hill to try to find common ground for the trillion dollar relief package before the August recess.  But Democrats, who passed a $3.4 trillion dollar bill in the House, won’t budge, and want to spend more.  In a closed-door meeting, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tried to negotiate a higher number, asking if the two parties could settle on a $2.4 trillion relief bill.  But Secretary Mnuchin made it very clear that number was a “non-starter.”

If the two parties cannot make a deal by the end of today, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said there is “no sense” to continue the debate.  In a press conference, Senator Schumer made the Democrat’s case, saying the Republican have to meet them half way if they want the bill to pass in the Democrat majority House, and if they want Democrat Senators to vote for it in the upper chamber.  He argued that Mark Meadows, who is a member of the Tea Party, is refusing to reach a consensus because of ideology, instead of doing what is right for the American people.  The Democrats say that in order to trace and treat the virus, there needs to be enough money invested in the coronavirus effort, and without a higher relief bill, it won’t be safe to reopen the economy.  Schumer said if there isn’t enough money for schools, they won’t be able to open safely, and the economy would not recover because parents wouldn’t be able to go back to work. But key Republicans, who already think Congress has spent too much money in coronavirus aid in the CARES Act, do not want to keep adding money to the government credit card, especially when state and local governments remain locked down.

President Trump has said if a deal is not reached, he will sign executive orders to provide relief.  One of the sticking points in negotiations is the unemployment insurance, which expired the end of July.  Trump said that he would act in his executive role to enact expanded unemployment benefits, reinstate an eviction moratorium, reduce payroll taxes, and suspend student loan repayments.  But already, there are questions if these executive orders will be challenged in court since the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power to spend.  

Mnuchin said that President Trump has made it clear a bill with a large bailout to state and local governments will not pass his desk, which is another point of debate in Congress.  Adding another trillion dollars to the bill would include $950 billion to state and local governments, instead of the $150 billion the Republicans want to provide.  

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