Politics

‘We’re So Far Apart’: White House Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows Gives Update On Coronavirus Stimulus Package

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Henry Rodgers Senior Congressional Correspondent
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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Monday that Congress and the White House are nowhere close to reaching a deal on a phase 4 coronavirus stimulus package.

Meadows, who has been spending a lot of time in the Capitol negotiating with lawmakers on another stimulus package, told reporters that there has not been much progress. When he was asked if the White House would consider adding more money to a stimulus package, he responded by saying: “We’re so far apart right now that it is not even a valid question.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also been leading negotiation efforts on Capitol Hill and was asked about the progress and if the White House is open to a larger stimulus package, rather than a short-term deal, to which he responded by saying: “We are open to a bigger package if we can reach an agreement.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speak to reporters after briefing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, on their meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, for coronavirus relief talks at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on August 3, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, several Republicans are not even in favor of their party’s own legislation, saying it includes too much money. Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy criticized his party’s $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package Wednesday, saying too much money is being spent.

“There’s a lot of non-coronavirus spending in this deal. And I call it ‘spending porn’ because the bill was supposed to be about coronavirus,” Kennedy told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The HEALS Act, which focuses on health, economic assistance, liability protection and schools was released Monday and is a “tailored and targeted draft that will cut right to the heart of three distinct crises facing our country,” according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (RELATED: ‘HEALS Act’ — McConnell Unveils Republicans Coronavirus Stimulus Package)

Kennedy is not the only Republican to criticize the legislation. The Daily Caller spoke to a number of Republican senators about possible benefits for lobbyists if another trillion-dollar stimulus package is passed, to which many responded by saying they will likely not vote in favor of another stimulus bill, citing excess spending and direct benefits for lobbyists. (RELATED: Senate Republicans List Benefits For Lobbyist As Reason They Might Vote Against Phase 4 Stimulus Bill)

More than a dozen Senate Republicans reportedly voiced serious displeasure at signing off on another $1 trillion package at Tuesday’s conference lunch.

Hopes are low that Congress will put a Phase 4 stimulus package on President Donald Trump’s desk before the upcoming August recess, people familiar with the negotiations told the Daily Caller.