President Trump and Republicans appeared to back down from their firm opposition to extending $600 unemployment benefits on Friday but remained at an impasse with Democrats on a solution, even as the benefits officially expired.
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 31: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the … [+]
The $600 expanded unemployment benefit — which has helped keep around 25 million Americans afloat during the pandemic — officially ran out at midnight on Friday.
Congress adjourned for the weekend without a deal and the two parties remain far away from agreement.
After weeks of unwavering opposition to extending the $600 benefit in full, the White House appeared to back down on Friday, as Trump directed his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to be “aggressive and forward-leaning” in extending the benefits.
Meadows, one of the negotiators for the White House on stimulus, pitched four separate options for extending the benefits that were all rejected by Democrats.
One proposal included a one-week extension of the $600 benefit, while another would extend the benefits at $400 per week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected the plans, arguing a one week extension would have to be accompanied by a larger bill while refusing to back down from the $600 sum.
What to watch for
Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Meadows met at the Capitol on Saturday morning to discuss the $600 benefit and other elements of the next stimulus package.
Trump took to Twitter on Friday and expressed perhaps his most aggressive pitch to extend the benefits yet:
A study from Yale University published last month found that expanded jobless benefits did not deter those workers from finding employment. Meanwhile, a separate study from the University of Chicago found that 68% of unemployed workers received more in benefits than they did working their previous jobs.
Slashing unemployment benefits could have a devastating effect on the economy. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, told Forbes that if the benefits are decreased to $200-per-week through the end of the 2020 (a proposal that has been floated by GOP lawmakers) U.S. GDP would see a decline of 1.15%. If the payouts are eliminated completely, it would result in a GDP decline of 1.3%, Zandi says, and 1.1 million more in job losses.
Trump, GOP soften on opposition to $600 jobless benefit (Associated Press)