House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that they offered to take the topline of their relief package down $1 trillion if the White House negotiators would offer an additional $1 trillion in their proposals.
The compromise, Schumer said, was rejected by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin with “vehemence.”
“The Speaker made a very fair offer — let’s narrow each — and you should’ve seen the vehemence,” Schumer said at a Friday press briefing. “You should’ve seen their faces, ‘absolutely not.’ I said, ‘you mean you want it to go almost all in your direction or you won’t negotiate?’ and they said, ‘yeah.'”
Schumer said that their compromise would have been “mainly in terms of dates,” implying that the figures in the Democrats’ plan would’ve gone down by shortening the lifespan of certain aid and benefits.
The Democratic leaders seemed to take particular umbrage with Meadows, a former Tea Party congressman who is generally seen as less eager to make a deal than Mnuchin, who has successfully brokered compromises with Democratic leadership in the past.
“His positions are very hardened and non-compromising, more so than Mnuchin,” Schumer said.
The White House negotiators also rejected last night the Democrats’ injection in the HEROES Bill of $3.6 billion in election aid, per Schumer, despite him getting “excited” and “firm” about its necessity.
Schumer acknowledged that the two did come a “little tiny bit” in the Democrats’ direction on direct aid to state and local governments, but “not in the middle, or close to it.” In a dear colleague letter sent out during the press conference, Pelosi said that Meadows and Mnuchin offered only $150 billion to Democrats’ desired $915 billion in direct aid, an amount she said “would guarantee mass layoffs of health care workers, first responders, transit workers, sanitation and food workers and teachers.”
Pelosi also said in the letter that the two sides are “a couple hundred billion dollars apart” in funds for schools, adding that the White House negotiators are insisting that the money only go to schools that are re-opening in person.
Democrats painting the Republicans as unyielding is a bit of script flip of recent days. Some Senate Republicans have been going so far as to imply that Democrats were refusing to compromise because they see the decimated economy as politically advantageous, while President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans try to defend their seats.
The four negotiators are scheduled to meet Friday afternoon after a largely unsuccessful three-hour negotiation Thursday evening.
Meadows threatened earlier in the week to cut off the negotiations if no deal was brokered by Friday, floating executive orders that Trump could issue as an alternative. It is unclear if Trump has the authority to make unilateral moves on all of the issues suggested — eviction moratoriums, payroll taxes, student loan relief and redistributing already allotted funds — and when he would sign the orders. He has threatened to do so as soon as Friday evening.
Pelosi did not take the bait when asked at the press conference if Democrats would challenge the executive orders in court.
“If and when he does it, we’ll let you know,” she said before departing the stage.
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