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With no deal on pandemic relief bill, Trump says he’ll use executive action

The White House and congressional Democrats have again failed to agree on a new pandemic relief package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, but they were unable to find a middle ground. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Negotiations on more COVID financial relief have stalled in Washington tonight amid signs that the economic recovery has stalled as the virus surges again.

    According to the Labor Department, employers added a net of 1.8 million jobs in July. That's far fewer than the previous two months. The unemployment rate did fall nearly a full percent to 10.2 percent, but that's still higher than during the Great Recession.

    Against that backdrop, White House negotiators and Democratic congressional leaders failed again to agree on a relief package, possibly including federal jobless benefits that expired a week ago.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. They spoke afterward at the Capitol.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    We're asking them, again, to be fair, to meet us in the middle, not to have a "my way or the highway" attitude, which they seem to have.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif.:

    Anyway, but I have told them, come back when you're ready to give us a higher number.

  • Steven Mnuchin:

    We will continue to try to get an agreement that's in the best interest of the people. And that's why we're here.

  • Mark Meadows:

    But, in the meantime, we're going to take executive orders to try to alleviate some of the pain that people are spending — are experiencing. This is not a perfect answer. We will be the first ones to say that, but it is all that we can do.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And here with the latest on these negotiations are our own Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor.

    So, hello to both of you.

    And, Lisa, to you first.

    What is known about what they actually were able to negotiate or discuss behind closed doors? And what do we know about what the main sticking points are?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right.

    A little bit more on what you just reported, Judy. Democrats offered to take down their offer about $1 trillion to the $2 trillion area, let's say. But Republicans said that, really, what Democrats were doing was changing the timeline of spending.

    Some spending that Democrats wanted to have for two years, they would say limit — or — I'm sorry — they wanted three years, and Democrats were moving it to two years. Essentially, Judy, Republicans said they don't think it's real money. They didn't see a real change in sort of the top — the items that Democrats were asking for.

    Nonetheless, Democrats said they have made what they believe is a good-faith offer. They are now waiting for Republicans to make the next move.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Yamiche, we heard the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, say that the president is prepared to take action unilaterally on his own.

    What is known about how the White House sees the way forward now?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the White House is taking the stance that Democrats are not taking these negotiations seriously. That, of course, is something that Democrats disagree with.

    I want to read to you a tweet that the president sent just in the last hour. He wrote: "Pelosi and Schumer are only interested in bailout money for poorly run Democrat cities and states, nothing to do with the virus. Want $1 trillion, no interest. We are going a different way."

    That different way, Judy is the executive action that you just alluded to. The president, I'm told from — from White House officials, is looking at several different options, including a payroll tax initiative, something to do with student loans, some sort of movement on unemployment benefits, as well as some sort of movement on eviction protections.

    This was — today was a self-imposed deadline for the White House to move forward on its own, and look only to doing executive actions. I should note that the White House is saying that they feel like they're going to be on firm legal ground when it comes to this executive order.

    But Democrats disagree and say a lot of the things that the president wants to do, he simply cannot do only by executive order.

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