Trump administration officials and Senate Republicans are discussing a short-term extension of unemployment insurance, as lawmakers and the White House appear unlikely to reach a broader stimulus deal before the benefits lapse.
The possible side deal would extend funds that were provided to millions of Americans by earlier coronavirus rescue packages, according to people familiar with the matter. The scope of any extension is unclear.
Some Republican aides on Capitol Hill said they weren’t aware of the negotiations and cast doubt on its chances of succeeding. Several Republicans didn’t support the original $600-a-week unemployment insurance provided under the Cares Act, saying it provides a disincentive to work. The payments expire at the end of July.
Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are struggling to reach a consensus on the contours of another stimulus plan, putting at risk the White House goal of enacting a package by the end of next week.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, said Tuesday he didn’t favor a short-term extension.
“I would prefer not to see a short-term extension,” he said, adding that he wanted “to give people the security they are not going to be let down and fall through the cracks in September and October.”
The White House declined to comment and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The White House also appears to be backing away from earlier statements that a payroll tax holiday may be a deal-breaker. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday the president still wants the measures.
“I don’t know that in any negotiation that there are red lines, but there are certainly high priorities and it will remain a very high priority for the president,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are returning to the Capitol Wednesday after an initial round of talks with Senate Republicans ended without a clear outline or any lessening of GOP resistance to President Donald Trump’s desire for a payroll tax holiday.
Meadows conceded that there was some distance to go before trying to bridge the gap between the roughly $1 trillion plan Republicans are trying to craft and the $3.5 trillion that Democrats have on the table.
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