The new White House proposal was a nonstarter for Democrats and a sharp rejection of the bipartisan efforts that have brought the two parties closer to a compromise on a legislative package amid signs that the U.S. economy is deteriorating under the increasing strain of the coronavirus.
Under the bipartisan framework released last week by a group of moderate lawmakers, Congress would approve about $180 billion in new federal unemployment benefits for tens of millions of jobless Americans. That would be enough to fund federal supplementary unemployment benefits at $300 per week while extending various unemployment programs that are set to expire at the end of the year. The framework did not include another round of stimulus payments.
By contrast, Mnuchin has submitted a plan to provide about $40 billion in new funding for federal unemployment benefits. Mnuchin’s plan would extend expiring benefits but does not include any supplementary federal benefit, meaning millions of jobless workers would receive no additional federal help, one person familiar with the plan said. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department declined to comment.
The plan submitted by Mnuchin is almost certain to be viewed as a nonstarter by congressional Democrats, who have been adamant that the federal government provide additional income support to laid-off workers. It could also imperil revived talks over stimulus negotiations.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) strongly criticized the proposal by the White House.
“The bipartisan talks are the best hope for a bipartisan solution,” the statement said. “The President’s proposal starts by cutting the unemployment insurance proposal being discussed by bipartisan Members of the House and Senate from $180 billion to $40 billion. That is unacceptable.”
Mnuchin said in a statement that the proposal has been reviewed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
McConnell also proposed including no additional supplementary federal unemployment benefits in a proposal he released last week. That marked a reversal in his position from before the election, when Senate Republicans pushed for federal unemployment benefits at $300 per week. Unlike the White House plan, McConnell did not propose an additional round of direct payments.
President Trump previously backed extending federal unemployment benefits at elevated levels. In August, the president unilaterally approved a $300-per-week extension of benefits without congressional approval.
Trump has privately indicated a willingness to send another round of stimulus checks of as much as $2,000, according to one person in direct communication with the president. Congress in March approved a round of $1,200 stimulus checks that the Treasury Department disbursed to more than 100 million American families in a matter of weeks.
A second round of…
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