The Trump administration and Democrats have not agreed to any "top-line numbers" and remain "trillions of dollars apart" on coronavirus stimulus negotiations, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday.
The state of play: Meadows told reporters, "At this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle or — I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday.”
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is negotiating on behalf of the White House alongside Meadows, added: "I think we need to see some real compromise on some of the big issues. And if we can reach a compromise on these big issues, I think everything else will fall into place."
- He continued: "If we can't reach an agreement on these mitigations then I don't see us coming to an overall deal. And then we'll have to look at the president taking actions under his executive authority."
What to watch: Trump said at a briefing Wednesday that his administration is "exploring executive actions to provide protections against eviction." Meadows added on CNN that the White House legal team is looking at extending enhanced unemployment benefits via executive order, citing "some of the flexibility we have from the previous CARES Act."
The other side: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has insisted that the price tag for the next coronavirus relief package should be $3.4 trillion, said on MSNBC Wednesday that the White House does not have the power to extend unemployment benefits via executive order.
- "He may be able to extend the moratorium on evictions," Pelosi said. "But unless you have some money with that — it's helpful but it's not the whole thing."
- "Again, he can't do the money without the Congress of the United States. The power of the purse begins in the House."