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Stimulus Talks Progress, but Two Sides 'Still a Long Way Apart'

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Talks continued over the weekend on the next round of economic stimulus, with Democratic leaders and Trump administration officials agreeing that while there’s still a long way to go, they are making headway.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a Saturday press briefing that the priorities for President Donald Trump are to extend the expired unenhanced unemployment insurance benefits as well as to prevent rental evictions.

While Democrats have made clear they want to do “an entire package,” Mnuchin said, “we’ve made clear that we’re willing to deal with the short-term issues, pass something quickly and then come back to the larger issues.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated in a separate press briefing Saturday that “this was the longest meeting we had and was more productive,” however, “many issues are outstanding.”

Democrats’ $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (Heroes) Act  which passed the House in May  extends $600 weekly unemployment benefits through January 2021, while the Republicans’ $1 trillion Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act cuts supplemental unemployment benefits to $200 a week through September, when the payment will be combined with state benefits to replace 70% of wages.

Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows met for three hours on Saturday with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mnuchin stressed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., are “very involved” in the discussions.

Staff talks continued on Sunday, with Mnuchin stating that he and Meadows will resume negotiations with Pelosi and Schumer Monday.

Mnuchin characterized the Saturday talks as “the most productive” to date. “We went through a long list of policy issues on their side, on our side. As we’ve said in the past, there’s clearly a subset of issues where we agree on very much. We’re very interested in extending unenhanced unemployment insurance, we’re very interested in schools, we’re very interested in jobs.”

Extending the Paycheck Protection Program has bipartisan support, he said.

Meadows added during the press briefing that Trump is “checking in literally on an hourly basis to see how we’re progressing.… It’s time to make deal,” he said, adding that one may come in the next couple days.

“We’re still a long way apart,” Meadows stated.