Sides Make A Little Progress In Stimulus Talks; Mcconnell Says He’ll Support Whatever Comes Out Of Negotiations

( Trump administration officials and House Democrats continue to make progress in negotiations for the next coronavirus stimulus package, but no deal is imminent yet.

Both sides left negotiations Tuesday saying they are chugging along, and agreed that a deal needs to be struck by the end of this week. The negotiations are being held between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Schumer said:

“We’re making progress. We really went down issue by issue by issue, slogging through them. They made some concessions, which we appreciate. We made some concessions, which they appreciated. We’re still far away on a lot of the important issues, but we’re continuing to go at it.”

Noticeably absent from these meetings is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a key figure and important person in what will be the next step — getting a bill passed through Congress. While McConnell has his own opinions about what should and shouldn’t be in the next bill, he said he would support whatever package the White House and Democrats agreed on.

“Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, that have to sign it into law, and the Democrat not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I’m prepared to support even if I have some problems with certain parts of it,” McConnell said.

Reportedly, the two sides have agreed upon extending the funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses with forgivable loans. Both sides also agree on sending more direct payments to Americans.

The big gaps still remain on extending the federal boost to unemployment insurance and relief funding for state and local governments. The $600 per week boost to unemployment insurance expired at the end of July. Democrats want to extend that payment through the end of the year, while Republicans want to reduce it significantly.

Democrats also want to send billions of dollars of relief to local and state governments, while Republicans say they haven’t even used the money they were given back in the spring.

“In some cases, we’re inching along, and in others, we’re making more progress,” Pelosi said following Tuesday’s meeting.

It’s unlikely that a package will be passed and signed into law by next week, even if the White House and Democrats can come to a final consensus by the end of this week. That means the Senate will likely not take its planned August recess. House members will also need to be recalled to Washington, D.C., to vote once an agreement is in place.

Once the stimulus bill does get to the voting stage, McConnell said depending on what is agreed upon, he may need significant support from Democrats to get a bill passed. This is especially true when it comes to unemployment aid.

“If you’re looking for a total consensus among Republican senators, you’re not going to find it. We do have divisions about what to do,” he said.