The White House is blaming Democrats on Capitol Hill for not reaching a compromise on a new relief package.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke at a briefing Friday morning. Watch their remarks in the player above.
The White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis.
Democratic leaders panned the idea in late-night talks at the Capitol, opting to keep the pressure on for a more sweeping bill that would deliver aid to state and local governments, help for the poor and funding for schools and colleges to address the pandemic.
Without action, the benefit runs out Friday.
Republicans have been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but their resolve weakened with the looming expiration of the popular benefit – and as Trump indicated that he supports keeping the full $600 benefit for now.
During the two-hour meeting at the Capitol, Trump’s team offered a weeklong extension. But Democrats have so far rejected a piecemeal approach, saying the next relief bill needs to move as a complete package. The sides agreed to talk again Friday and into the weekend.
Stark differences remain between the $3 trillion proposal from Democrats and $1 trillion counter from Republicans. Money for states and cities is a crucial dividing line as local governments plead for help to shore up budgets and prevent deeper layoffs as they incur COVID-19 costs and lost tax revenue in shutdown economies.
It’s clear that Democrats are trying to push an advantage in the negotiations because Republicans are so split over the prospect of additional government spending and jobless benefits. Among the issues sure to gather momentum is a Democratic demand for a 15% increase in food stamp benefits.
Trump appears worried about the expiration of the $600 unemployment benefit boost as well as an expiring federal eviction moratorium on millions of rental units, potentially sending households into devastating turmoil.
The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.