White House says Americans about to lose $600 coronavirus aid 'should call' Democrats

“We’re not" on a “path” to a deal, Speaker Pelosi says in rare duelling Friday press conferences

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 31 July 2020 17:14 BST
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White House officials are pressuring top congressional Democrats to accept Republican proposals to temporarily extend help to Americans who are struggling most due to the coronavirus.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters the White House and Republican leaders have made four offers in recent days, but Democratic leaders have rejected each one -- and made no counteroffers. Assistance for unemployed Americans and protections against evictions were both due to expire at 11:59pm on Friday.

"What do Democrats support? What do Democrats believe in?" Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany asked, saying Americans should "call" Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer if they want their federal assistance to continue.

As the White House officials briefed reporters, Ms Pelosi was painting a bleak picture about the stalled talks.

“We’re not,” she said, on a “path” to any deal.

Ms Pelosi described the rapidly spreading virus as a "freight train" and touted a bill House Democrats already passed.

But Senate Republicans immediately rejected it, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will not bring it to the floor.

She criticised the White House and congressional Republicans for proposing a cut from $600 to $200 regular unemployment payments because "the $600 is essential for these families."

Both Mr Meadows and Ms Pelosi said talks will resume on Friday – but there is little hope for a deal any time soon.

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