Call it an appetizer to the $3.4 trillion banquet House Democrats have demanded for weeks. The Washington Post reported last night that all sides have finally agreed to focus on the most urgent aspects of COVID-19 relief, putting aside larger issues for the moment. The emergency relief would address unemployment benefits and extend eviction moratoriums as states struggle to reopen for business.
The White House tried making this offer last week, but to no avail. What changed? Perhaps the election schedule had something to do with it:
Senior White House officials said Tuesday that they made “very concrete offers” to Democrats related to unemployment benefits and eviction protections, and after days of bickering, both sides now appear to be trying to secure a compromise.
The agreement on a timeline came in a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The four have been meeting almost daily for a week. Their agreement Tuesday on a specific timeline to reach an overall deal constituted the most concrete progress yet. It suggests that the White House has backed off efforts to pass a stand-alone extension of unemployment benefits — and will also stand down, at least for now, on more recent threats to act unilaterally through executive orders if no deal can be reached with Congress.