- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are “absolutely” willing to use executive orders to break the gridlock on coronavirus talks if progress isn’t made in their next round of negotiations with top Democrats.

Mr. Meadows told reporters, as the two White House liaisons headed to a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer Tuesday afternoon, that they’ll be offering a few more proposals for a broader deal, but they’re all still “a long ways away from striking any kind of deal.”

Neither offered a definite timeline on when an executive order might be put out.

“Hopefully we’ll make progress today and not have to do that,” Mr. Meadows said.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, emerged from the meeting saying they’re “inching along.”

“They made some concessions that we appreciated. We made some concessions which they appreciated. We’re still far away on a lot of the important issues but we’re continuing to go at it” Mr. Schumer said.

President Trump said Monday he’s weighing an executive order to cut payroll taxes and housing evictions if Congress remains at odds. The president is also reportedly considering unilateral action to extend federal unemployment benefits.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer have met with Mr. Meadows and Mr. Mnuchin nearly every day for the past week to negotiate a bipartisan compromise between the Democrats‘ $3 trillion relief package and the GOP’s $1 trillion proposal.

The GOP is split over its own proposal, with more than a dozen Republican senators unhappy with spending even more money as the coronavirus tab reaches nearly $3 trillion — but they’re united in saying the Democrats‘ proposal is a partisan wish list for including funding for cannabis and mail-in-ballots, and therefore is a non-starter.

While there’s some overlap in what needs to be addressed, the sticking points are, as always, in the details — who qualifies and how much to spend.

With enhanced unemployment benefits officially expired, Republicans offered short-term extensions for the payments, though Democrats rejected them, saying they needed to be closer to a larger bill before adopting a “piecemeal” approach.

Republicans were dejected on the prospects for a deal after their weekly luncheon meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Meadows and Mnuchin said that the Dems still do not appear to be serious about reaching a negotiated outcome, and so we’re prepared to be in session until we get one,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, told reporters.

The House, which passed its coronavirus proposal back in May, is out until a deal is reached.

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