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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has a suggestion: Get your cameras and head to Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Why? “Because you’re going to see members of Congress leaving Washington, D.C., to go home and pretend like they’re working hard on this particular deal when, in fact, the checks are not going out to the American people and unemployment benefits will start to cease,” Meadows said Thursday on “Fox & Friends.”
Meadows encouraged viewers “to call on their House member to make sure that they stay here [and] that we negotiate.”
Democrats have rejected GOP-proffered bills for hundreds of billions of dollars, saying they don’t provide enough. Republican senators, meanwhile, say negotiations between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are not going well and likely won’t produce a COVID-19 deal before the Nov. 3 election. Still, Pelosi said this week that the House is committed to getting a coronavirus deal, The Hill reported.
And if they don’t, Democrats have their own plan to blame Republicans. “In the ongoing standoff on the next coronavirus package, House Democratic leaders could rip the GOP-led Senate for leaving town without a deal. House Democratic leaders have indicated they will allow lawmakers to leave town as long as they could return to Washington, D.C., within a day’s notice for a potential vote,” wrote the D.C. political website.
Senate Republicans at first offered a $1.1 trillion package in emergency aid, but that number dropped to $650 billion in negotiations, including just $350 billion in new funding. President Trump, in turn, ended up backing Democrats in saying that amount was insufficient.
“Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!),” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Since then, a $1.5 trillion coronavirus plan has been floated, which would “include $120 billion for enhanced unemployment aid through January 2021 at a rate of $450 weekly for an eight-week transition period until states can reconfigure to the new system that would provide up to $600 weekly, but not to exceed 100% of the previous wage,” Fox News reported.
“The plan also includes $280 billion for another round of direct stimulus checks worth $1,200 for adults and $500 for children and $290 billion for small business and nonprofit assistance, which would include $240 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds,” Fox wrote.
Meadows said Thursday that Trump “was certainly willing to embrace the 1.5 trillion-dollar number that was put out in the last day or so.”
But Meadows said later in the day that Pelosi doesn’t seem to be willing to discuss anything less than the $2.2 trillion package offered by Democrats. “That’s not a negotiation, that’s an ultimatum,” he said.
Meadows also said it is urgent to help out the nation’s airlines, which have been severely damaged by the pandemic and are expected to enact mass layoffs at the end of the month. “We’ve got tens of thousands of people that are about to be laid off, so if nothing more, let’s go ahead and put that package on the floor and pass that because, hopefully, all of us can agree that laying off airline workers at this particular time is not something we should do,” Meadows said.