Fri | Sep 25, 2020

Last-ditch virus aid talks in US collapse, no new help for jobless

Published:Friday | August 7, 2020 | 4:06 PM
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York (left) accompanied by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California (right) speak to members of the media after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as they continue to negotiate a coronavirus relief package on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, August 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive collapsing Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money ended in disappointment on Friday, making it increasingly likely that Washington gridlock will mean more hardship for millions of people who are losing enhanced jobless benefits and further damage for an economy pummelled by the still-raging coronavirus.

“It was a disappointing meeting,” declared top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion.

He urged the White House to “negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say it’s your way or no way.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “Unfortunately we did not make any progress today.”

With the collapse of the talks, he said President Donald Trump was now likely to issue executive orders on home evictions and on student loan debt.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, “This is not a perfect answer -- we’ll be the first ones to say that -- but it is all that we can do, and all the president can do within the confines of his executive power.”

Friday’s session followed a combative meeting on Thursday that, for the first time cast real doubt on the ability of the Trump administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill to come together on a fifth COVID-19 response bill.

Pelosi summoned Mnuchin and Meadows in hopes of breathing life into the negotiations, which have been characterised by frustration and intransigence on both sides.

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