With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis. Democratic leaders panned the idea in late-night talks at the Capitol, opting to keep the pressure on for a more sweeping bill that would deliver aid to state and local governments, help for the poor and funding for schools and colleges to address the pandemic. Without action, the benefit runs out Friday, the AP reports. “They want to do one small thing that won’t solve the problem," said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Republicans have been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but their resolve weakened with the looming expiration of the popular benefit—and as Trump indicated that he supports keeping the full $600 benefit for now. During the two-hour meeting at the Capitol, Trump's team offered a weeklong extension. But Democrats have so far rejected a piecemeal approach, saying the next relief bill needs to move as a complete package. The sides agreed to talk again Friday and into the weekend. Before Trump spoke, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell adjourned the chamber for the weekend while taking a procedural step that could allow voting on a potential compromise next week. Negotiators for the first time this week reported at least some progress. There continues to be agreement among Washington's top power players that Congress must pass further relief in the coming days and weeks. (Much more on the negotiations here.)