President Trump had initially dispatched White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to act as the White House lead negotiators. They continue to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), with the goal of finding a compromise deal between Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion proposal and the $3.5 trillion plan backed by Democrats.
But after nearly two weeks of only modest progress, both sides have expressed frustration. Yesterday, Mr. Meadows warned that Mr. Trump was preparing to abandon talks with Congress and take action on his own if Republicans couldn’t reach a broad agreement with Democrats by week’s end.
“At this point, either we’re going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle, or it becomes extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday,” Mr. Meadows said. He said Mr. Trump would take executive actions on jobless aid and stopping evictions if talks didn’t advance.
“The only thing that gets an outcome is the speaker and the president of the United States reaching an agreement,” Mr. McConnell said on Fox News on Wednesday. “And once they do that, I believe that the majority of my members will support it, but not every single one of them. I’ve been clear about that from the beginning.”
Even if they can cut a deal, White House officials will have the job of keeping Mr. Trump on board with any final agreement, and persuading reluctant GOP lawmakers to come around.
“We’re at an impasse right now,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters.
White House officials had hoped to reach a deal by Friday, but Democrats said they would not be pinned down to that timeline.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of lying about the GOP’s proposals, and 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, but were prepared to return if a deal came together.
Illustrating how rapidly things appeared to be devolving, Trump wrote on Twitter:
“Upon departing the Oval Office for Ohio, I’ve notified my staff to continue working on an Executive Order with respect to Payroll Tax Cut, Eviction Protections, Unemployment Extensions, and Student Loan Repayment Options.”
“Instead of getting serious, the Democratic leaders have chosen instead to misrepresent and even lie about what’s at stake,” McConnell said.
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