Lack of optimism for new coronavirus relief bill as negotiations stall

There was hardly a soul at the US Capitol on Monday, reflecting the lack of optimism for a new coronavirus relief deal amid the mounting blame-game between Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday dismissed President Trump’s sweeping executive orders on coronavirus pandemic relief as “all sizzle, no steak.”

The New York Democrat said Trump’s four pandemic relief orders — signed Saturday after Capitol Hill gridlock — are insufficient and hard to implement after a breakdown in talks on legislation.

“President Trump’s executive orders are hardly worth the paper they’re printed on,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Executive orders in general aren’t going to get the job done, especially the incompetent ones issued over the weekend … Trump’s recent executive orders are so unserious in terms of meeting the large needs of America as to be pathetic.”

Trump on Saturday signed orders to revive a federal eviction moratorium, extend student loan deferment, create a $400 weekly unemployment supplement and suspend some taxes on income under $104,000.

Trump said he had to act after talks broke down. Democrats initially insisted the Republicans cave and pass a $3.4 trillion plan, including $1 trillion in bailouts for state and local governments, which Republicans oppose. On Friday, Democrats publicly offered to meet Republicans half-way around $2 trillion, but details remained vague.

The gridlock resulted in a prior evictions moratorium lapsing last month and the expiration of a $600 unemployment supplement.

Without federal protection, an estimated 23 million people could face eviction by October. More than 30 million people receive unemployment benefits from states and could benefit from a federal supplement.

Congressional leaders indicated Monday that talks on legislation are not progressing since Trump signed the orders. That means some broadly bipartisan ideas, such as another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and more than $100 billion in funds to help schools safely reopen in the fall, remain in flux.

Schumer did not criticize Trump’s deferment of student loans, but said the other three executive orders aren’t good enough.

Sen. Charles Schumer
Kevin C. Downs for New York Post

Schumer said the order to halt evictions “is the best example of all sizzle and no steak. It does not even guarantee a moratorium on evictions. It merely instructs federal agencies to ‘review and consider whether it’s appropriate to halt evictions.’ ”

“What that means in jargon around here is, ‘Let’s not do it,’ ” he claimed.

Trump’s payroll tax deferral “would do next to nothing to help our workers or the economy,” Schumer insisted. He argued the taxes would have to be paid in December when the suspension ends — though Trump is pressuring Congress to forgive the amounts.

The $400 unemployment supplement, meanwhile, “is so put together with spit and glue that in all likelihood, many states won’t implement it at all,” Schumer said.

Under the Trump order, $300 would come from federal funds and $100 from state funds, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday.

The Democratic-held House of Representatives doesn’t plan to have any votes until Sept. 14, though lawmakers will be given 24 hours notice if there’s a vote on coronavirus legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blamed Democrats for the impasse, noting that money for state and local governments was a major sticking point.

“Democrats think they smell an opening. They have wanted for years to make Uncle Sam bail out decades of mismanaged and broken policies in places like New York, New Jersey, and California,” McConnell said Monday afternoon.

“President Trump took steps to soften the blow of the Democrats’ hostage tactics on American families,” McConnell said.

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