Appearing on Fox News Channel’s Special Report Wednesday night after weeks of negotiations with Democrats over the next round of coronavirus relief, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked whether a deal was in sight.
“Well, I sure hope so,” he replied with a chuckle. “I think both sides want to get to an outcome. That’s the good news. The bad news is we are a long way apart, and, uh… we’ll see.”
If it wasn’t already clear last week, it sure is now: Congress is beyond late getting to that outcome. The CARES Act’s provision expanding unemployment benefits by $600 a week lapsed at the end of July, meaning the income of about 30 million Americans is currently falling off a cliff, an outcome neither Democrats nor Republicans wanted. But they’ve stalled out over a dollar amount: Democrats want to keep the benefit at current levels, while most Republicans argue it should be reduced to $200 extra a week or 70 percent of a recipient’s previous income. Until they strike a deal, $0 a week is where it sits.
The Census Bureau last week reported that more than a quarter of American adults are in dire housing straits: either they weren’t able to make their last rent or mortgage payment or they don’t expect to be able to pay next month’s.