Republican and Democratic officials are struggling to negotiate a fourth coronavirus relief package amidst a soon-expiring July 31 deadline for the boosted unemployment benefits, and a gap between the policy ideas being proposed by either party.
The struggle is so big, in fact, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly compared it to trying to breed a giraffe with a flamingo.
“It’s like a giraffe and a flamingo,” said Pelosi in a meeting on Tuesday, reports Politico, citing people at the meeting. “They’re both at a zoo. A dumb person may think they could mate for offspring. A smart person knows that’s impossible. That’s our bills. They’re unable to mate.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were also in the meeting, as was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who reportedly compared the Democratic bill to a golden retriever and the GOP proposal to a chihuahua: “[A] golden retriever can’t mate with a Chihuahua. You have a Chihuahua. We have a beautiful lion.”
Pelosi reportedly then “helpfully reminded” the Democratic Senate leader that lions actually can’t mate with chihuahuas either.
The Republican proposal, unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) earlier this week, is an attempt to counter the “multi-trillion-dollar socialist manifesto” Democrats passed in the House back in May.
While the two proposals agree on the federal government sending out another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, other policy disagreements abound. For example, the Republican proposal suggests reigning in the boosted unemployment insurance benefits; the Democratic bill wants to extend the $600 boost into next year.
Politico reports that the Republican proposal, which would cost about $1 trillion, also includes $100 billion for schools, $26 billion to develop and distribute vaccines, and $16 billion for coronavirus testing. The Democratic bill, which would cost over $3 trillion, would also toss an additional $500 billion to states and $375 million to local governments for tax-revenue related shortfalls or pandemic costs, according to CNN.
The Republican proposal also extends legal protections to businesses for coronavirus-related lawsuits, a move Democrats have strongly opposed, but that McConnell recently told CNBC isn’t up for negotiation because there would be “no chance of the country getting back to normal without it.”
During an interview on PBS New Hour, McConnell suggested a sizable portion of Republican senators aren’t even on board with another coronavirus relief package, which could cause additional difficulties in the negotiations process with Democrats.
“About 20 of my members think that we’ve already done enough,” said McConnell. “They’re deeply concerned — and it’s understandable — about the size of our national debt now, which is as big as our economy for the first time since World War II.”
“So I do have a reasonable number of members who don’t think we ought to do another package,” continued the majority leader. “That’s not my view, and it’s not the majority of our conference view, nor is it the view of the president.”