You remember those lines in sand that the Trump White House declared before it began talks with the leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate?
Well, a number of them have already vanished, washed out of existence by the fears of Republican Senators that the White House positions will make their already tough electoral task this November even tougher.
President’s Donald Trump’s demand for a cut in Social Security payroll taxes–dead.
President Trump’s demand to cut funding for state coronavirus testing and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–dead. (Although the current version of the Republican package includes less money for these programs that the package passed by the House of Representatives.)
President Trump’s demand that only schools that agreed to open with on-person classes get any funding–dead. (Republicans seem to have settled on $70 billion in aid for schools with $30 billion linked to physical re-opening.)
President Trump’s demand that the package include language guaranteeing that a new building for the FBI be located in downtown Washington, across the corner from the Trump International Hotel–hanging on by a thread.
The erasure of these White House demands doesn’t mean that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is close to producing a package that he can introduce on the Senate floor.
He still faces extraneous issues like a demand from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, that American citizens be allowed to sue the Chinese government for damages claimed from the coronavirus pandemic.
Of course, there’s the continued McConnell demand that the legislation include a measure protecting businesses from liability due to the coronavirus. Democrats have pointed out that since the Trump administration isn’t enforcing current workplace safety laws during the coronavirus pandemic, a blanket immunity from liability might end all hopes that workers have of getting safe working conditions.
And there’s still the minor issue of how much to include in any extension of the enhanced weekly benefit for unemployment. Democrats have passed a provision to continue the benefit–which expires tomorrow by the way–at its current $600 a week level until January. Last language from the Republicans in the Senate pointed to $200 or less–$100 has been suggested–a week.
Republicans do seem to have agreed to propose another $1200 check that would be sent to all (maybe–we haven’t seen the language yet) Americans.
The Republican proposal at the moment also doesn’t include any new money in aid to states and cities.
Faced with the huge list of issues where Republicans can’t even reach agreement among themselves, the White House has suggested moving to a strategy that reauthorized the enhanced unemployment benefit in a separate bill–no extra money for testing, no extra money for schools, no money for states and cities, etc.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly poured very cold water on that idea. “No, No, No,” Pelosi said. “This is a package. We cannot piecemeal this.” Democrats passed a $3 trillion package in May that they want to use as the starting point for their negotiations.