The two parties have been locked in negotiations on the new coronavirus relief bill, with the GOP opposing Democratic efforts to extend the recently expired $600 weekly unemployment benefit. Instead, the GOP put forward a proposal that would slash the assistance to $200.
According to Pelosi, President Donald Trump and his allies are “standing in the way” of expanding the $600 per week benefit.
“We have been for the $600, they have a $200 proposal, which does not meet the needs of America’s working families,” Pelosi began.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others have backed Pelosi, refusing to budge from their positions. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recently suggested that there is room for compromise.
But Pelosi stressed that Democrats are “unified” in their demands.
“The amount of money that is given as an enhancement for unemployment insurance should relate to the rate of unemployment. So when that goes down, then you can consider something less than the $600, but in this agreement it’s $600,” the top Democrat explained.
Pelosi then argued that GOP politicians were not nearly as uncompromising when the United States Congress was providing other types of financial relief.
“To disrespect their motivation — (it’s) so amazing how insistent the Republicans are about a working family and their $600, and how cavalier they are about other money that is going out.”
Republicans have argued that extending jobless benefits would be counterproductive.
Notably, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested that the amount proposed by Pelosi and others would slow the return of workers to the labor market, since some Americans would be paid to “stay home.”
Pelosi noted that the two parties are still not close to reaching an agreement, not only in terms of stimulating the struggling economy, but also with regards to developing a plan to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Trump has tried to blame Democrats for the deadlock. In a Twitter message posted earlier this week, the president noted that the upcoming coronavirus relief package is expected to include another round of direct cash payments, saying that Pelosi and her allies are “holding back” the money.
Data shows that the coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy. As NPR reported, in the second quarter of the year, the gross domestic product shrank at an annual rate of 32.9 percent, the biggest drop on record.