Amid growing panic among the unemployed as the pandemic economic lockdown continues, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation that the Republicans and Democrats are not close to a deal.
“We still have a long ways to go,” said Meadows, one of the chief negotiators with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“Yesterday was a step in the right direction. I’m not optimistic there will be a solution in the very near term.”
The $600-per-week federal unemployment benefits stimulus has now expired, leaving those out of work relying on state benefits, which are far lower. Other protections have also evaporated, leaving the affected workers abandoned in an environment where government-mandated shutdowns have millions without jobs.
Both sides are finger-pointing.
“If you have unemployed people that have lost their enhanced unemployment, they need to call their Democrat senators and House members, because they’re the ones standing in the way,” Meadows said Sunday.
Unemployment benefits have been the central issue in the negotiations. Republicans want to reduce the payments, while Democrats are pushing to extend the current $600 rate to the first few months of 2021. However, Democrats have reportedly rejected overtures to temporarily extend the enhanced federal unemployment.
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