By Lisa Mascaro | Impartial Press
WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not about to blink.
The Democratic leader has been here before and negotiated an agreement with the White House to save the US economy, and the lessons of the Great Recession are now deepening talks on the coronavirus. With Republicans once again beaming at major government mediations, Democrats believe they have the leverage effect, forcing President Donald Trump into a politically risky resistance to help millions of Americans.
“It is impossible to know if she has overplayed her hand until we see if there is a COVID package,” said Michael Steel, a former top aide to then-President John Boehner.
On Monday, there were no new talks between Trump’s team and negotiators on Capitol Hill as the president seeks a go-it-alone strategy. Over the weekend, he launched a series of executive measures that give rise to a White House that takes responsibility but can eventually provide some help to ordinary Americans.
The President’s order is trying to turn the devastating fallout from unemployment benefits, protection and other support that has expired. But there are limits and legal pitfalls when trying to put an end to resolving the legislative branch.
Pelosi dismissed Trump’s proposal on Monday as an “illusion” in an interview with MSNBC.
Trump acknowledged that he is still quite open to a deal with Congress. “So now Schumer and Pelosi want to meet to make a deal. “Amazing how it works, isn’t it,” he tweeted on Monday. “They know my phone number.”
Since Trump has now played his hand, however, the Democrats seem to be in a hurry to show theirs.
It will take days, if not weeks, to figure out what Trump meant by his executive action, as guidance from the administration is sent to the states. The Department of Labor is already telling governors that Trump’s promised $ 400 weekly unemployment benefits will actually amount to just $ 300 if states cannot provide the rest, according to information obtained on Monday by The Associated Press.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer dismissed Trump’s administrative actions as “all sizzle and no steak,” held together by “spit and glue.”
Meanwhile, countless Americans already know the press. What would have been an increase in unemployment benefits per week of $ 600 is gone, as is the federal protection against eviction. Schools that had seen federal aid are now facing the prospect of resuming the budget.
The virus shows no signs of relief, with more than 5 million infections and 160,000 deaths across the country and has new evidence that many Americans’ jobs can never return.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a conference call with governors on Monday, said congressional action remains the administration’s “first choice.”
Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence called on the governors to reach out to congressional leaders and pass legislation, according to the AP.
“Whenever they want to meet – and they want to negotiate and have a new proposal – we are more than happy to meet,” Mnuchin said later in the White House. He confirmed that he had not spoken to Democratic leaders since the talks collapsed on Friday.
Pelosi has been here before, at the beginning of the recent recession, when George W. Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson fell to his knees in the White House and all but asked her not to let an economic rescue plan fail in Congress.
Democrats provided the bulk of the vote in 2008 for Bush’s bailout, and, with a majority in both House and Senate, also approved President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan for 2009. They often see the era gathering for a Republican president.
Now Pelosi is facing a much bigger crisis – the raging virus and the economic shutdown.
She told The Associated Press earlier this year that Mnuchin is a “good listener” and that they have a good relationship, after negotiating a relief package in March.
But she said: “When President Bush was president, he would say to me, ‘Secretary Paulson is speaking for me.’ I’m not doing this – I’m not sure.
Negotiations on the latest bill on coronavirus were shifted with the arrival of Mark Meadows, the president’s new chief of staff, a conservative former head of the House Freedom Caucus who is largely seen as a counterweight to Mnuchin.
During closed days, Meadows often declares one issue after another as a “nonstarter,” according to an assistant granted anonymity to discuss private sessions.
Another assistant said that both Meadows and Mnuchin used that phrase several times when pushing back against the democratic proposals.
Pelosi has repeatedly said that Trump and the Republicans do not understand the seriousness of the situation facing the nation.
She and Schumer have put their latest compromise offer on the table and lost their $ 3 billion-plus package with relief of $ 1 trillion to $ 2.5 trillion, asking the White House to do the same and raise its $ 1 trillion proposal to at least 2 trillion dollars. It was rejected last week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of “hostage-taking.”
The GOP leader, who has chosen to remain on the sidelines of the talks, has a weakened hand because, unlike the democratic leaders, who have most of their rankings behind them, his Republican majority is broken. Almost half of the GOP senators prefer no new support at all.
“Democrats think they smell an opening,” he said.
McConnell can still play an influential role if and when he decides to include the votes, he is safe on the table. It can lead to a path for a possible deal.
Associated Press author Alan Suderman of Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.