GOP Grows A Backbone During Aid Negotiations, McConnell Cancels Recess Until Deal Is DONE
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is done playing games.
After weeks of stalling and political gridlock with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats over Congress passing another round of coronavirus relief aid for Americans, McConnell just said he's canceling recess and lawmakers will not be skipping town.
“We have been told we would likely be back next week unless we somehow finish this week,” Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said after meeting with fellow GOP leaders.
A deal this week has become increasingly unlikely as bipartisan talks drag on without much movement. The two parties are trying to close a gap of more than $2 trillion between a GOP coronavirus aid package and a much more expensive Democratic proposal.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who are negotiating on behalf of President Trump, warned that if a deal is not secured by the end of this week, they may not continue the negotiations.
The two men have been meeting behind closed doors for more than a week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Today, they included Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to discuss Democrats' concerns over Postal Service reforms they believe threaten mail-in balloting ahead of the November election.
Meadows left the meeting with Pelosi and Schumer Wednesday afternoon and made it clear they that Democrats were not trying to negotiate in good faith at all.
Mnuchin, on the other hand, attempted to come across as more optimistic, but it seemed clear that Democrats were making it nearly impossible to strike a deal.
“We still have a lot of significant issues, but we're plugging through,” Mnuchin said. “I think it was productive.”
McConnell also did not sound too optimistic on Thursday when asked about the negotiations.
“While Americans are struggling, the Democratic leaders have moved about 1 inch in eight days,” McConnell said.
The Examiner report adds:
The two top Democrats are pushing for Mnuchin and Meadows to accept much of their $3.4 trillion coronavirus aid proposal that includes a bailout of the U.S. Postal Service as well as "hazard pay" for some workers, extended unemployment benefits enhanced by $600 per week, and money to prop up state and local governments as well as failing state pension systems.
House Democrats passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill in May but have now quadrupled their original $100 billion allocation for schools and universities.
Among the major sticking points is a provision Schumer says must remain in the bill that would eliminate a $10,000 cap on property tax deductions.
The cap was imposed by Republicans in their 2017 tax reform legislation. The cap impacts some of the wealthiest counties in the United States, many in blue districts where property taxes are high.
McConnell also called out Pelosi and Schumer for demanding that a provision be included in the bill that he says would specifically benefit their wealthy constituents.
“It’s a little too on the nose for the speaker from San Francisco and the Democratic leader from New York City to be holding up a trillion dollars in emergency aid for the entire country unless they get big tax breaks for millionaires in their hometowns,” McConnell said.