WASHINGTON — White House chief of staff Mark Meadows lashed Democrats for rejecting what he said were four different offers to extend the $600 per week federal unemployment boost which expires Friday.
Appearing in the White House briefing room after a week of fruitless negotiations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Meadows accused Democrats of abandoning the American people.
“Those four different offers have been actually rejected — but more importantly than that, they’ve not even been countered,” Meadows said Friday morning.
“The Democrats are certainly willing today to allow some of the American citizens who are struggling the most with this pandemic to go unprotected,” he said.
Expanded unemployment benefits introduced in March at the peak of the coronavirus crisis will expire Friday after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal before the Senate adjourned Thursday.
One of the offers reportedly made was a four-month extension approved by President Trump at the current rate of $600 per week, assuring more than 25 million Americans currently reviving jobless benefits would be protected until December.
But Pelosi and Schumer rejected that deal, Meadows said. Democrats want the $600 jobless benefit to last until January 2021.
The White House and Republicans have been pushing for a large reduction to the unemployment insurance, reducing it to $200 per week as they argue the current rate provides a disincentive for people to return to work and, in some cases, pays people more than their regular salary.
“What we’re seeing is politics as usual from Democrats on Capitol Hill,” Meadows continued.
“The Democrats believe they have all the cards on their side and they’re willing to play those cards at the expense of those who are hurt.”
The White House this week dispatched the chief of staff and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to Capitol Hill to negotiate with Democrats on a fourth stimulus package but the two sides far apart ideologically — Democrats wanting to pass a $3 trillion bill which Republicans are eager to cap at $1 trillion.
The House in May passed a generous $2 trillion HEROES bill but it was considered dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unveiled his own package, a much more restrained $1 trillion HEALS act which will include another round of coronavirus checks.
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