Concessions from the White House on unemployment compensation and the willingness to grant state aide during the coronavirus pandemic have finally allowed Democrats and Republicans to progress toward a new stimulus deal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have continued their painstakingly slow negotiations and have set an end of the week deadline.
Multiple reports emerged on Wednesday, suggesting that both sides had started making concessions they hoped would lead to a deal in the two-week-long negotiations.
With the $600-a-week federal addition to unemployment compensation has come to an end and Pelosi refusing to budge on any reduction, any deal appeared doubtful earlier in the week because the White House and Republican leaders had only offered to extend the benefits but cut them by $400.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration offered to extend extra federal unemployment insurance into December at $400 per week. NBC News reported that the White House had floated keeping the previous $600 a week benefit for a week while negotiators hashed out a broader deal.
Mnuchin and Meadows also offered to extend a moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing into December, Politico and NBC News reported. Democrats cut their request for U.S. Postal Service funding to $10 billion from $25 billion.
Spokespeople for the Democratic leaders and Trump administration officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the reported proposals.
The concessions would mark some of the first progress on seemingly intractable issues since the GOP last week released its counteroffer to a plan from the House Democrats.
Still, both sides reportedly remain far apart on aid for state and local governments, funding for schools and assistance for food, rent and mortgage payments, among other topics.
Schumer also suggested that he not accept an agreement without an extension of the $600 per week jobless benefit.
“At the moment, however, the White House is not [supporting $600 a week], and we are not going to strike a deal unless we extend the unemployment benefits that have kept nearly 12 million Americans out of poverty,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, approximately 50 million Americans have filed for unemployment compensation, and many have heavily relied on the additional $600 federal stipend, including in-state benefits.
In another sign of progress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-Kentucky) said he was prepared to support any deal between Democrats and the Trump administration even if he had problems with certain parts of the agreement.
Both sides also have agreed that the result would also include more direct payments to many Americans, similar to the $1,200 per adult payment in the CARES Act.
Democrats have agreed that a second stimulus check for Americans would include $1,200 per adult and $2,400 for couples. It would also include $500 per child or dependent.
Republicans have floated the same $1,200 payment, and various forms of the proposal include $1,200 per dependent or $1,000 per dependent. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has asked that families receive at least $2,000 per month retroactive to March with payments ending three months after the pandemic.
Each of the direct payment proposals would contain similar eligibility provisions as the CARES Act. Single individuals who made $75,000 or less would be entitled to the full $1,200, while couples who earned $150,000 or less would also be eligible for the entire $2,400 per couple.
Under the CARES Act, parents received $500 for dependent children under the age of 17. Negotiators have eliminated the age requirement this time, and all dependents, regardless of age, would be eligible to receive a stimulus payment.