Several coronavirus-related relief measures passed by Congress earlier this year were set to expire on Friday.
When Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused to consider a temporary extension to unemployment benefits, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows lambasted the party for failing to get “serious” about negotiating a solution, as reported by Breitbart.
“The president is serious”
Among the notable provisions phased out with the end of the prior legislation was an additional $600 per week on top of existing unemployment benefits. No new deal has yet been reached and GOP offers to temporarily extend the benefit were rejected by Democrats.
“We call on Capitol Hill to get serious about their negotiations,” Meadows told reporters at the White House on Friday. “The president is serious about the negotiations.”
He went on to note that the Trump administration had advanced multiple proposals that would have extended the unemployment benefits while negotiations continued on a broader relief package — each of which was turned down by Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).
“The Democrats believe they have all the cards on their side, and they’re willing to play their cards at the expense of those that are hurting,” Meadows said. “The Democrats have made zero offers.”
As CBS News reported, Meadows’ assertion that Democrats refused multiple Republican proposals was accurate, including a simple one-week extension Pelosi dismissed as “worthless.” Among the remaining proposals was one that would have reduced the additional payments to $400 per week while extending them for four months. Another involved extending the $600 payments for one month and tapering the amount down by $200 each successive month.
“Not once, not twice”
“I think the Democrats are willing to allow the enhanced unemployment to expire, they made that very clear, not once, not twice, but three times, and so I’m not very optimistic on anybody who’s counting on enhanced unemployment, to have any relief anytime soon,” Meadows said.
He went on to describe Democrats as “certainly willing today to allow some of the American citizens who are struggling the most under this pandemic to go unprotected.”
For her part, Pelosi placed the onus on the White House and Republicans in Congress, as she explained to reporters on Friday.
“Every time they say something I say, perhaps you are characterizing yourself and think that that’s how we are — we’re not,” she claimed, suggesting that a short-term extension would only be acceptable if a broader deal was near completion.
Of course, the temporary extension is only necessary because that long-term deal is not close to being reached. As it stands, Democratic leaders seem poised to place their partisan agenda above the needs of the American people.