White House chief of staff: Pelosi, GOP ‘nowhere close’ to coronavirus aid deal

Earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DCA) asked Republicans to meet with her and help pass another coronavirus-related aid package.

However, it now seems those have stalled, with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly saying after leaving Pelosi’s office earlier this week that she and other lawmakers are “nowhere close to a deal,” according to the Washington Examiner.

That news comes after Pelosi released statement on Monday summoning GOP legislators to a meeting so that they could “negotiate and get the job done,” adding, “If Republicans care about working families, this won’t take long. Time is running out. Congress cannot go home without an agreement.”

Enhanced benefits at issue

As it stands, expanded unemployment compensation benefits are set to expire Friday if no agreement is reached, something that would impact an estimated 32 million Americans, according to the Examiner.

Republicans have continued to argue that the current $600 per week supplemental payment that individuals have been receiving since April should be reduced to $200, Fox Business noted.

Many in the GOP fear that the extra money is discouraging recipients from returning to work or seeking new employment, thus leaving businesses short-handed and unable to re-open even when coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted.

President Trump echoed those concerns last month during an interview with Fox Business in which he said, “We want to create a very great incentive to work.”

“Like a giraffe and a flamingo”

In contrast, Democrats want to maintain the unemployment benefits at the present level, with Speaker Pelosi telling reporters late last week that the payments are “essential to the well-being of America,” and further wondering, “What do the Republicans and the White House have against working families in our country that they would begrudge them $600 in necessary sustenance?”

Curiously, both Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) used animal metaphors on Thursday to describe the legislative impasse.

“It’s like a giraffe and a flamingo,” Politico quoted Pelosi as saying of the Republican and Democratic proposals. “They’re both at a zoo. A dumb person may think they could mate for offspring. A smart person knows that’s impossible. That’s our bills. They’re unable to mate.”

For his part, Sen. Schumer characterized the Democrats’ plan as “a beautiful lion” while dismissing the Republican plan as merely being “a Chihuahua.”

Whether a compromise can be achieved that allows some combination of these specimens to cohabitate remains to be seen.

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