“If you were the one deciding what bill to pay today, I wouldn’t trust us,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, about the guerrilla struggle that took over the hill on Thursday.
While bilateral talks continued in the evening between Cabinet Chairman Nancy Pelosi, Finance Minister Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the reality is after a two-week session, lawmakers are no closer to a deal.
Instead, a deeply divided senate voted Thursday on party issues to pass a legislative mechanism that could be used in the future to pass unemployment expansion or a broader bill if the senate eventually reaches a deal.
In Senate remarks earlier Thursday, Senate Majority Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on the other side to do nothing before the deadline, intensifying the rhetorical heat of the talks, which have been as cold as ice for days.
Scomer then Sumer responded to the Senate floor with his own broad side.
“Because Senate Republicans could not achieve their act together, two weeks have already disappeared, and three months before, because Republicans are bound by a distorted ideology that the federal government should not help people, even after a time of national emergencies, “Sumer said.
Republicans and Democrats both pushed to the Senate floor to adopt separate proposals – Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, proposed an extension of the federal unemployment increase of $ 200 or 66% of past revenues, Sumer countered with the proposal adopted by the House of Democrats in May.
It was a procedural effort that every party knew would fail – and it did.
Senator John Twin, the second-ranked Republican, said he would try again and force him to vote on Johnson’s proposal next week. Republicans hope that by forcing a vote on Johnson’s measure – and other proposals that have not been revealed — they can detach some rank and submit Democrats anxious to find a way out of the impasse, even if senior Democratic leaders insist. for a wider deal.
“I have to move things,” Twin said. “Our boys want to vote, they want to be able to prove that they are moving the ball down the field, and the Democrats want to keep blocking. That exposes this. And let’s hope it makes them sit down and work hard. “
The failed efforts on the floor and the big remarks only served as the last example of negotiations, which are not as many as they have derailed, as they were never for them to begin. Senate Republicans, days late, unveiled their own series of proposals Monday, only to have many in the conference the subject of some or all of them. Also in this boat: President Donald Trump, who said he had problems with parts of the PP plan, but added that it was “something like semi-irrelevant”, given that Democrats have to agree to any final deal.
Democrats took a close look at the $ 3 trillion proposal that the House adopted in May, sticking to extending the fixed increase in unemployment benefits of $ 600 – despite significant GOP objections – as well as nearly $ 1 trillion, which the bill provides for states and localities.
“It’s slow,” Twin told CNN. “They’re dug in. At the moment, I think they just want the problem.”
Pelosi and Sumer flatly rejected the idea of a short-term, narrow package floating from the White House, saying the full package was the only way forward for them.
“As the nation waits, desperate for all-encompassing relief, they leave everything else,” Sumer said.
The White House negotiating team of Mnuchin and Meadows became increasingly pessimistic after three days of closed-door meetings with their Democratic counterparts.
Meadows, when asked by CNN what could unlock the current stalemate, replied emphatically, “I don’t know he’s doing anything.”
Negotiations between Meadows, Mnuchin, Pelosi and Schumer ended on Thursday night and the two sides stayed away from each other in an agreement.
Mnuchin told reporters after the meeting that negotiators had “made progress” on certain issues but remained at odds with others. He said the administration would continue to talk to Democrats “as long as necessary” to reach an agreement.
Meadows, meanwhile, said democratic leaders had not received their proposals “warmly”.
Pelosi and Sumer confirmed this description, telling reporters that the administration did not understand the scope of action needed for the next stimulus bill or the gravity of the situation.
“At the moment, they don’t understand how serious the problem is,” Sumer said. “Did we have a good discussion? Yes. Will we continue to discuss? Yes. Do we want to continue to reach an agreement? Absolutely. But we must face the gravity of the problem.”
Congress leaders on both sides continue to argue that an agreement is needed, and economic figures released Thursday support the point.
The US economy contracted at a record 32.9% year on year in the last quarter, and weekly unemployment claims rose to 1.43 million amid signs of a slowdown in recovery.
McConnell called on senior Republicans and Democrats on each committee to begin negotiations, a structure that was used during the negotiations on the first major package of emergency economic aid.
“Republicans have proposed a framework that would do tremendous benefits for a huge number of American families,” McConnell said. “If Democrats ever come to the table, we will be able to overcome our differences and pass a law.”
Sumer, who is punishing McConnell for staying out of bilateral talks so far, has called on Republicans to understand the gravity of the moment.
“We just need our Republican counterparts to bring our act together, roll up our sleeves, understand the gravity and depth and breadth of this problem, and negotiate with us in a serious way,” the New York Democrat said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.
Hailey Bird, Ted Barrett and Manu Raju of CNN contributed to this report.