Pelosi called it a “consequential meeting” in which the differences between the two parties were on display.
Mnuchin said after the meeting that if they decide Friday that further negotiations are futile, Trump would move ahead unilaterally with executive orders. Schumer countered that they were “very disappointed” in how the meeting went and that any White House executive orders could challenged in court.
The political standoff comes as more than 30 million Americans are set to miss their second enhanced jobless benefits check in the next few days and millions of others are no longer protected by an eviction moratorium that expired last month. Democrats have sought a $3.4 trillion bill to provide more economic relief while Republicans have sought a narrower package.
Negotiations have taken place for more than a week, and Mnuchin said that while they have made progress in some areas, other areas – such as aid to states and cities – remain completely unsettled.
Now the White House and Democrats must decide how to proceed.
Trump said earlier Thursday he had instructed aides to prepare executive actions that would unilaterally distribute unemployment benefits, a payroll tax suspension, eviction protections, and student loan relief, but it’s unclear what legal process he would do to achieve this. He said he might act as soon as Friday.
Schumer said the Democrats are still urging more negotiations.
“We are very far apart,” Pelosi said. “It’s most unfortunate.”
Even before the meeting got under way, tempers were flaring on Capitol Hill. Pelosi alleged in a television interview that Republicans don’t give “a damn” about those in need, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of lying about GOP proposals.
In addition to the lapsed unemployment benefits and eviction protections, other parts of the Cares Act will soon expire. The small-business Paycheck Protection Program is set to lapse on Saturday and relief for certain student loan borrowers is set to expire Sept. 30.
“We’re at an impasse right now,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters before the White House met with Democrats.
Democrats are pushing for a large aid package, but Meadows and Mnuchin favor a smaller deal. Meadows suggested ahead of the meeting that the White House has shown willingness to move higher than their initial $1 trillion starting point while accusing Democrats of refusing to budge from their $3.4 trillion opening offer.
McConnell said he would be keeping the Senate in session “unless and until the Democrats demonstrate they will never let an agreement materialize.” However, multiple Republican senators said they were heading to their home states and would return if a deal came together.
Illustrating how rapidly things appeared to be devolving, Trump wrote in a Twitter post…