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White House Makes Major Concession with Time Running Out in Phase 4 COVID-19 Relief Negotiations


A coronavirus relief deal is in sight, but not without drama on Capitol Hill. The $1 trillion measure will provide aid for millions of Americans amid the pandemic. But with time running out, a final deal has yet to be reached. 

Months after the House passed a Democrat-led bill, the White House is set to make a major concession when Senate Republicans unveil their plan. 

Inching closer to a deal with Republicans on the next phase of a congressional rescue package, President Trump is prepared to give in on a payroll tax cut. 

After calling it "very important" Monday the President declared in a tweet Thursday that "The Democrats have stated strongly that they won't approve a Payroll Tax Cut (too bad!)" and signaled his readiness to move on without it in a Republican relief package estimated to hit $1 trillion.

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"This is about kids and jobs," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outside the White House. The bill is set to provide up to $25 billion for COVID-19 testing and up to $105 billion to schools. 

Mnuchin said the Republican plan would decrease the level of unemployment insurance set to run out this month. 

"This is intended to be wage replacement, so we're focused on the percentage which is about 70%, so nobody's going to get more than $600 but again if you were making $300, you're not going to get $600 this time," he said. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) countered that the GOP plan is too little too late.  

With those extra unemployment benefits set to run out next week, the clock is ticking. But whether leaving out the President's payroll tax cut will be enough to bring Democrats to the table remains to be seen. 

"What we have seen so far falls very short of the challenge that we face in order to defeat the virus in order to open our schools and to open our economy," Pelosi said. 

Democrats are insisting that any relief bill include hazard pay as well as food and rental assistance. 

Speaking on the Senate Floor Thursday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, "How about instead of shielding corporations from immunity, we shield renters from eviction?" 

As to those grappling with adding to the deficit, the top House Republican signaled that a GOP bill is the lesser of two evils. 

"It's a real concern, the amount of debt we have, I watched as the Democrats wanted to spend 3 trillion," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

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