White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (C) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R) depart from a meeting with Senate Republicans on the latest stimulus bill, July 29. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Politico's Playbook, which has published numerous scoops from inside the COVID-19 stimulus negotiations, reports the latest from Capitol Hill:
The big picture: "There are a set of policy areas where stumbling blocks remain. Democrats want new money for the Postal Service, new money for elections and nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments. Republicans seem open to USPS money to address operational shortfalls, but they are a hard no on money going to a new mail-in balloting system."
Details: "Dems want $25 billion for the USPS, Republicans think the number is closer to $5 billion. Dems want state and local cash — Republicans have pushed for flexibility with already appropriated money. Republicans likewise will not give on more money for the election."
- "[S]tructuring of enhanced unemployment insurance and a liability overhaul remain the two biggest areas that need work for the GOP."
- "Republicans have not taken a consistent position on enhanced UI — they floated $600 per week for one week, $200 per week, 70% of wages and 66% of wages. In other words, they are all over the map — and Democrats have rejected each one of their plans, and say they want a UI fix only as part of a big package."
The bottom line: Now that the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefits have expired, lawmakers from both parties feel a sense of urgency to cut a deal. While the White House negotiates with House Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to run through a series of amendments to see if he can find the sweet spot of agreement on the outstanding issues.