WASHINGTON – A crucial week on Capitol Hill that began with a stony Republican outline of a coronavirus relief package ended with a complete breakdown in negotiations, threatening to deepen the risks of an already embraced President Donald Trump.
The Republican-led Senate adjourned Thursday for a long weekend with no action on COVID-19 relief, all but ensuring that a $ 600 weekly weekly unemployment benefit would expire on Friday.
The payment has been a financial aid to more than 20 million unemployed Americans. The U.S. recorded its worst quarterly economic contraction ever on Thursday ̵1; during a week when the national number of virus deaths reached 150,000.
It was a precarious position for Trump, who has received low ratings in opinion polls for his treatment of a crisis that devastated Americans – and is set to worsen for many. The recent slide has left him crawling Democrat Joe Biden by more than 8 points on the fifty-eight average of national polls.
“When things go wrong with government policy, voters blame the president,” Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College, said in an email. “The classic case is Herbert Hoover and the Depression. Carter and Bush 41 lost their re-election bids because of the economic downturn that was much less severe.”
“In this case, the problems are extremely serious and the responsibility of the president is extremely clear,” he said. “Message to the GOP from top to bottom: Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
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The Democrat-led House approved a $ 3.4 trillion bill in May that will extend the $ 600 weekly benefit until January. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y, twice sought to force a Senate vote on the bill Thursday, but it was blocked by Republicans who say the bonus is a disincentive to work with and should be reduced.
Republicans sought to vote Thursday on a proposal to cut benefits to 66 percent of lost wages or $ 200 a week. Schumer blocked it, calling it insufficient. When Senator Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Called for a one-week extension of existing policy, Schumer called the request a “stunt” that “cannot be implemented in time” and called on the Senate to pass the House-approved HEROES Act.
David Kochel, a Republican strategist, accused Schumer of refusing to compromise with the intent of damaging the GOP in the Nov. 3 election, when Democrats hope to capture the White House and Senate.
“Schumer is a villain here,” Kochel said. “He is undermining the confidence of the American people in Washington and Congress. He is doing more harm than good to the chances of President Trump being re-elected.”
Democrats said Republicans were the ones who caused harm to politics to their party leader. “Beyond being fundamentally stupid and overly cruel, Republicans are making a massive political mistake,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “Controlling COVID and saving the economy are the best ways to maintain their power, however they are very focused on helping corporations and hurting people to do what is in their best interest.”
‘We are in a deadlock’
A series of bipartisan talks this week yielded no progress.
“Right now, we’re in a deadlock,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Chairman of the Division Committee, told NBC News as he left the Capitol on Thursday.
As Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Said, “Progress is not exactly what we are doing now.”
While Republicans accuse Democrats of refusing to negotiate in good faith, Democrats say the proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Is a non-serious one because it lacks the support of many Republicans.
“Our colleagues on the other hand are tied in a knot,” Schumer said Thursday. “Our colleagues on the other hand can not agree on anything.”
Essential to the split are Republican divisions that have been exacerbated by a Trump mercury, which has signed party leaders on numerous occasions.
McConnell unveiled a $ 1 trillion package Monday that quickly met with resistance from some senators and was declared “semi-trivial” by Trump the next day. McConnell was forced to denounce part of his plan, which he initially appeared unaware of when asked about Monday, to spend $ 1.75 billion on a new FBI building at Trump’s request.
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On Wednesday, Trump made a short-term extension of unemployment assistance that gained little support from Republican senators. He added to the chaos by claiming that the Democrat-backed pay was not “high enough”, even though GOP senators said it was too high.
Underlining his difficult negotiating position, McConnell told PBS NewsHour on Wednesday that about 20 Republican senators believe Congress has “already done enough” and does not want to spend more money.
‘You can not negotiate with a ghost’
By Thursday, as senators were planning to leave for the weekend, McConnell headed to advance an empty “shell” bill to begin the debate process.
“It makes that business look forward to next week, and we can keep talking and hope to make progress because no progress is being made anywhere else,” he said.
McConnell, whose work is in line this fall, passed the torch to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to negotiate with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D, and the Director of Minorities. of Senate Chuck Schumer, DN. Y. The four of them met several times this week without any apparent agreement.
A senior Democrat aide familiar with the negotiations said Pelosi and Schumer could not reveal a coherent Republican position or figure out who is in charge.
“You can not negotiate with a ghost,” said the aide.
“Do Meadows talk about Trump? Does Mnuchin talk about Trump? Do Meadows talk about Mnuchin?” said the aide, who discussed the talks on condition of anonymity. “You don’t even know what McConnell thinks because he doesn’t have the support of his conference.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, argued that both sides would be blamed for inaction: “People will just say oyster in all their homes.”
And Meadows said the president is “on the side of the people” and would be rewarded for it.
“I think if you look at that and start focusing on politics instead of people, you are doing something wrong,” Meadows told reporters Thursday during a trip to Capitol Hill. “When you’re on the side of the people who ultimately vote, it takes care of itself in November or wherever it is.”