Fri. or for­get it: W. House

Stim­u­lus deal dead­line floated

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY DAVE GOLDINER

It’s Fri­day or bust.

White House ne­go­tia­tors sug­gested that Congress has just 48 hours to cut a deal for a mas­sive coro­n­avirus stim­u­lus pack­age — or get noth­ing.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a se­nior GOP leader, said on Wed­nes­day that Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows floated the dead­line as talks showed lit­tle sign of ma­jor progress.

“If there’s not a deal by Fri­day there won’t be a deal,” was the mes­sage from the White House said Blunt, ac­cord­ing to Jen­nifer Shutt of Roll Call.

Mnuchin and Mead­ows de­rided the tricky three-way talks with Democrats as an un­end­ing “Kabuki dance.”

“At some point, you have to set a dead­line or just con­tinue this Kabuki dance ev­ery day and no­body wants to do that,” Blunt said.

There is no ob­vi­ous rea­son why a deal has to be en­acted by Fri­day or why talks couldn’t go on through the week­end or even longer.

Congress is sup­posed to leave town at the end of the week for its an­nual Au­gust re­cess. But law­mak­ers on both sides of the aisle have said they may have to stick around to ham­mer out a deal.

Here’s a look where things stand based on pub­lic and pri­vate state­ments by key play­ers and their staff:

JOB­LESS BEN­E­FITS

Pelosi is stak­ing out a hard line on ex­tend­ing a $600-per­week sup­ple­men­tal pandemic fed­eral job­less ben­e­fit, which lapsed last week. Repub­li­cans of­fered to ex­tend the ben­e­fits into De­cem­ber but re­duce the amount in 2021. .

AID TO STATE AND LO­CAL GOV­ERN­MENTS

Sim­i­larly, the White House has of­fered Democrats $150 bil­lion in new ap­pro­pri­a­tions to help state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments al­le­vi­ate rev­enue losses from the dam­age the coro­n­avirus has wrought on the econ­omy. That matches the amount ap­pro­pri­ated af­ter a huge be­hind-the-scenes bat­tle dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions on the bi­par­ti­san $2 tril­lion coro­n­avirus bill that passed in March.

CASH/ECO­NOMIC STIM­U­LUS

Pelosi and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump agree on an­other $1,200 di­rect pay­ment to most Amer­i­cans, mak­ing the idea all but cer­tain to be in­cluded in the fi­nal agree­ment, at a cost in the $300 bil­lion range. Pelosi is also press­ing the case for a 15% in­crease in food­stamp ben­e­fits that are es­pe­cially im­por­tant to key pro­gres­sive con­stituen­cies, and Democrats won’t al­low $20 bil­lion in aid to farm­ers with­out a big trade-off on food aid.

Democrats are also press­ing for help for renters and home­own­ers hav­ing dif­fi­culty mak­ing hous­ing pay­ments and help for es­sen­tial work­ers, but both sides sup­port more fund­ing for child-care grants, com­mu­nity health cen­ters and en­ergy sub­si­dies for the poor.

ED­U­CA­TION

A cor­ner­stone to any agree­ment, and one of the ar­eas in which both sides are ea­ger to dis­play gen­eros­ity, in­volves over $100 bil­lion for help to school sys­tems. The White House and its GOP al­lies are press­ing for more money for schools that re­turn stu­dents to the class­room and want to help pri­vate schools as well.

LIABILITY SHIELD

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell (R-Ky.) con­tin­ues to in­sist that the leg­is­la­tion in­clude some sort of liability shield against law­suits brought against busi­nesses, schools and uni­ver­si­ties, and char­i­ties that op­er­ate dur­ing the pandemic. Pelosi is op­posed for now, but Democrats — who see it as a key to any fi­nal agree­ment — aren’t rul­ing the idea out.

POSTAL SER­VICE

The Postal Ser­vice is be­ing run by Post­mas­ter Gen­eral Louis DeJoy, a Trump ally un­der at­tack for man­age­ment changes that have co­in­cided with de­lays in mail de­liv­ery. A re­cent Demo­cratic of­fer called for $10 bil­lion for over­time and other costs, down from a $25 bil­lion plan in the Housep­a­ssed coro­n­avirus bill.

PPP

More than $100 bil­lion in left­over loan fund­ing from the Pay­check Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram — re­lief money for small busi­nesses — is up for grabs. Top ad­vo­cates like Sen. Marco Ru­bio (R-Fla.) are back­ing plans to ease some loan-for­give­ness rules and per­mit a sec­ond round of PPP pay­ments to es­pe­cially hard-hit busi­nesses.

NON-CORO­N­AVIRUS ITEMS

The com­pet­ing bills from House Democrats and Se­nate Repub­li­cans in­clude a fair amount of money for non-coro­n­avirus-re­lated items. The Se­nate pro­posal con­tains an al­most $2 bil­lion new FBI head­quar­ters in Washington and $30 bil­lion for the Pen­tagon, in­clud­ing di­rect help for pow­er­ful de­fense con­trac­tors. That’s likely to get dumped, as will a more gen­er­ous fed­eral tax de­duc­tion for state and lo­cal taxes that Democrats in­cluded in their bill.

White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin (from left) are among Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s top ne­go­tia­tors on coro­n­avirus re­lief pack­age.

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