August 31, 2020 / Rob Berger, Senior Contributor
Only in Washington can politicians slowly make progress toward a stimulus deal while pounding the table and accusing the other side of being unreasonable. Yet even with negotiations over the next stimulus package at a standstill, the two sides moved $500 billion closer to a deal last week.
Here’s what happened and what’s left to be done.
Stimulus Negotiations Update
Last week the big news on a stimulus package was a telephone call between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Following the 25-minute call, both sides offered little hope. Speaker Pelosi said the parties were at a “tragic impasse.” Mr. Meadows said stalled negotiations were due to Speaker Pelosi’s “fantasy objections” and that she wouldn’t explain what her offer would fund.
Move past the sound bites, however, and one can see real progress toward a deal. Recall that the starting positions were $3.4 trillion in the Heroes Act passed by House Democrats and $1 trillion in the HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans. During negotiations in early August, Speaker Pelosi offered to come down to $2.4 trillion if Republicans would come up to $2 trillion. That offer was rejected.
At the same time, Republicans offered to come up on specific issues, such as unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments. Democrats rejected this proposal.