White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — speaking simultaneously at podiums on opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue Friday morning — painted a bleak picture of their stalled coronavirus stimulus talks, making clear that they are still a long way from striking a deal.
The bottom line: Everyone who matters in these talks is sending out dismal signals. Many important benefits, including enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of Americans, expire today — and those in charge of bringing relief admit they're nowhere close to finding common ground.
In the White House briefing room, Meadows said he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "made no less than four different offers" on extending enhanced unemployment benefits and protection against eviction.
- Those four offers have been "rejected," he said, adding that he's "disappointed" Democrats are playing politics. He also claimed that Democrats have made "zero offers" in return.
At the Capitol, Pelosi said Democrats made an offer 10 weeks ago — the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which passed in the House in May and would have extended unemployment insurance and housing protections, among other sweeping provisions.
- She lambasted the White House and Republicans for waiting until the 11th hour to negotiate.
- She said she and other Democrats would not settle for the short-term extensions that Meadows and Mnuchin proposed, adding that "they don’t even have the votes for it in the Senate," and that one-week extensions only work when there is a possible bill at hand.
- "Let’s get real about who says what," Pelosi said. "What are we going to do in a week?"
What's next: Negotiations between the White House and Democratic leadership will continue over the weekend, and lawmakers are reluctantly hopeful that they'll be able to reach a deal by the end of the week — before the Senate is scheduled to break for recess.