The negotiators responsible for brokering a sweeping stimulus deal that will keep many Americans from losing federal unemployment benefits are currently at the "airing our differences" phase of talks.
But the weekly $600 federal unemployment enhancement expires in 48 hours, and, as a person involved told CNN last night, negotiators are "in different universes right now."
Here's where things stand this morning:
- Republicans vs. Republicans: Divisions within the Republican conference spilled out last night as some GOP senators dismissed parts of their party's own leadership's stimulus plan. In particular, senators blasted the administration for including $1.75 billion in the bill to build a new FBI building.
- What the GOP plan says about unemployment: The GOP proposal would cut enhanced federal unemployment benefits to $200, from the current level of $600, as states transition to implement a system designed to provide approximately 70% wage replacement for laid off workers.
- What Democrats want: Democrats — who already passed their stimulus plan in the House — aren't budging on the $600 federal unemployment enhancement, nor the nearly $1 trillion for state and local funding.
- What happens next: Contrary to where things currently sit, there are solutions here. People involved in the talks — most of whom are veterans of a half-dozen or more extremely high stakes deadline negotiations — acknowledge there are deal points here that can be reached. But they also make clear neither side is anywhere near moving towards those points at the moment. Today, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will return to the Capitol Wednesday to meet again with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.