White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that Democrats are “fundamentally unserious” about coronavirus relief negotiations after they rejected two proposals by Republicans to temporarily extend unemployment benefits while talks continue.
"They are making a mockery of this process," the press secretary added.
McEnany pointed to a proposal from Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., which would have extended the $600 federal unemployment benefit that expired Friday for seven days while the House and Senate worked out their differences in relief legislation. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also put forth a proposal that would extend the benefits by $200 for seven days.
Democrats blocked both proposals, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., slammed them as a political stunt.
“That should tell you exactly where Democrats stand – against hard-working Americans who lost their job through no fault of their own,” the press secretary said Tuesday.
“They’ve offered no concessions, they’ve offered no plans,” McEnany said of Democrats. “If anything, they are moving the opposite way. To demonstrate their unseriousness, their $3 trillion plan, they've now said it needs to be $3.4 trillion.” She added that the Trump administration was honing in on a “very specific focus” of making sure Americans don’t get evicted and extending unemployment insurance.
Senate Republicans unveiled the “HEALS Act,” their version of a fresh round of coronavirus relief, last week. HEALS stands for the package’s focus on Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection and Schools.
The $1 trillion Republican bill is the alternative to the House’s “Heroes Act,” the $3 trillion relief legislation passed in May.
The HEALS Act proposed a $200 extension of federal unemployment benefits through October, at which point states would be responsible for determining and doling out combined state and federal benefits that total 70 percent of lost wages.
The Heroes Act proposed a $600 extension of federal benefits through January 2021. Last week, Schumer said the $600 benefits were nonnegotiable to Democrats, hours after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said his party could be willing to compromise on the number.
"Look, it's not $600 or bust. ... [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi said the other day, which I thought was a great line: 'We don't have red lines, we have values.' We're going into these negotiations with values," Hoyer told CNN Tuesday. “To say that $600 or nothing, no, that's not where we are. We're prepared to discuss this.”
Schumer disputed Hoyer’s remarks. “We don’t believe that,” the New York Democrat told reporters when asked if $600 was negotiable. “I don’t know what speaker [Leader] Hoyer said.”