• House Spreaker Nancy Pelosi says Republicans don't grasp the seriousness of the pandemic-triggered recession
  • Trump said he would issue executive orders reinstating pandemic unemployment compensation and the moratorium on evictions if he has to
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there's no unanimity among Republicans about what to do

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation as coronavirus stimulus negotiations drag on, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows indicated he’d rather see President Trump take executive actions.

In an interview on “PBS Newshour” Tuesday, Pelosi said Republicans and Democrats are “far apart in terms of our values” and the White House does not accept “the gravity of the situation.”

Safeguards adopted in March, including a $600 a week unemployment benefit and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, expired at the end of last month, leaving million of Americans laid off as a result of the pandemic worried about whether they will be able to feed and house their families.

Negotiations were expected to continue Wednesday, with hopes an agreement would be reached by the end of the week.

Republicans offered a short-term, one-week emergency action, but Democrats rejected that approach, seeking a more comprehensive measure.

“Are we determined to find an agreement? Yes. We will find our common ground. But we don’t – we won’t find it on the slim reed of a piecemeal bill that doesn’t – that says to our workers, ‘You used to get $600, you’re now going to get $200, because the virus has intensified in its spread,’” she said.

Negotiators are talking amid fears of increasing layoffs as a result of the resurgence of coronavirus infections, which have killed about 157,000 Americans, the rate again rising to more than 1,000 a day. Initial unemployment claims, which have topped 1 million a week since late March, started inching up in late July. The next report was due Thursday with the monthly report scheduled for release Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the two sides have been exchanging written proposals and GOP negotiators had made some concessions.

“We really went down, issue by issue by issue slogging through this,” Schumer said after Tuesday’s negotiating session. “They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We made some concessions that they appreciated. We’re still far away on a lot of the important issues but we’re continuing to go back.”

To compound problems, Republicans are divided over what needs to be done.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnel told reporters: “If you’re looking for a total consensus among Republicans, you’re not going to find it.”

With Meadows’ penchant for blowing things up – he’s considered the architect of the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 that failed to defund Obamacare – odds of a swift agreement were dwindling. He has expressed support for Trump taking unilateral actions through executive orders. Trump has pushed for a suspension of the payroll tax – which already has been rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike and would apply to those who already have jobs.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters he’s not particularly optimistic.

“I don’t know. This is his [Meadows’] first big deal. We’ll see,” Shelby said.

Asked if he would reinstate the expired unemployment coronavirus benefit, Trump told reporters Tuesday: “Yes.”

“I may have to do something on evictions, too, because the Democrats, amazingly, don’t want to do it,” Trump said. “We offered them short-term deals, and we offered them lots of alternatives. But so far, the only thing they really want to do is bail out states that have been poorly managed by Democrats.”

The House passed a more than $3 trillion relief package in May, but negotiations on a new measure did not begin with Senate Republicans until last week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected the price tag. Republicans last week offered a $1 trillion bill that cut unemployment pandemic compensation by two-thirds and provided no funds for cash-strapped local and state governments.

“We’re going to work around the clock the next few days to see if we can bridge the issues,” Mnuchin said. “Some issues we’ve been able to agree on, some significant issues are still open.”