White House officials and Democratic leaders emerged from what both sides describe as a “disappointing meeting” on Friday, without a deal on a COVID-19 relief bill.
“The president would like us to make a deal, but unfortunately we did not make any progress today,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.
“We’re hopeful that they will think about it and come back and tell us they’re willing to meet us halfway,” said Senator Chuck Schumer.
The president says he has executive orders ready to go to address evictions, unemployment insurance and student loans, if talks fail.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time for us to finalize these and process them, but we’ll do them as quickly as we can because the president wants action,” Mnuchin added.
Democratic leaders criticized the threat, saying executive orders would be “weak and insufficient.”
The bill’s overall price tag remains the biggest sticking point. The White House started at a trillion dollars with Democrats wanting a $3.4 trillion package.
“They can’t come up with any significant cuts in their bill. what they want is a 2 and a half trillion dollar blank check,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Friday.
The house speaker says, so far, the White House has rebuffed her offer to remove $1 trillion from the Democrats’ proposals, if Republicans agreed to add $1 trillion to theirs.
“I’ve told them to come back when you are ready to give us a higher number,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said.
More than 30 million Americans are out of work and many say they don’t know how thy’ll make ends meet without the extra federal spending on unemployment.
The small business paycheck protection program, which is designed to keep employees on the payroll, is set to expire on Saturday.