White House, Democrats Remain at Odds Over Coronavirus Aid Deal 

The White House and top congressional Democrats remained at odds Sunday over the scope of more assistance for 30 million American workers left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic. In back-to-back appearances on ABC’s “This Week” show, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, sparred over how much new aid the national government should approve beyond less generous state unemployment benefits.Watch related video by VOA’s Esha SaraiSorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, speaks to reporters following a meeting at the Capitol on a COVID-19 relief bill, Aug. 1, 2020, in Washington.Pelosi, Mnuchin, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Saturday they had made progress in reaching a deal on the unemployment assistance and other aid to boost the country’s flagging economy. Their aides were set to resume discussions Sunday on details of a package while the main negotiators planned to renew their talks on Monday. But Meadows told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” show, “We still have a long ways to go. I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term.” They remain far apart on the size of an overall coronavirus assistance package, however, with Democrats calling for $3 trillion in new spending and Republicans wanting to limit it to $1 trillion. The Pelosi and Mnuchin disagreements quickly became apparent on the ABC talk show. “Overwhelmingly this is about keeping people out of poverty,” Pelosi said. “The $600 is essential,” she said. “This is about putting workers first, putting money in the pockets of American workers.” She did not, however, rule out the possibility of settling on a smaller continuing aid figure, but criticized some Republican lawmakers “who don’t want (to approve) anything.” She said the new assistance should be tied to unemployment rate. She downplayed complaints by Republicans that some unemployed workers have collected more in jobless benefits than they were paid while working. Mnuchin said Trump “is very concerned about the expiration” of the benefits” and “wants to spend what we need to.” But Mnuchin said he was surprised Democrats have spurned a White House offer to extend the $600-a-week federal benefits for a week while talks continue.  He said the continuing benefits “should be tied to some percentage of wages.” Mnuchin said “there’s no question some people were paid more to stay home than to work,” an outcome Republicans are determined to end. He said the virus has “devastated our economy.” Mnuchin said last week’s report that the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, fell 9.5% from April to June, the most in records dating back seven decades, was not surprising. He expressed optimism for the future, however. “I think we’re going to see a very big bounce back,” especially in 2021, he said.  


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