White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany says President Donald Trump has been an “active participant” in ongoing coronavirus stimulus negotiations and would be willing to meet with congressional Democrats if it would make “real progress.”
“The president is never opposed to anything that is in the best interest of the American people. If he finds they will make real progress, he certainly would not be opposed to that,” McEnany said in an interview with CBS 12 News. “But right now, Democrats need to come to the negotiating table rather than presenting untenable plans.”
Negotiations have currently stalled. But President Trump has left Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to take the lead roles.
President Trump signed four executive actions over the weekend after negotiations over a new stimulus package hit a roadblock. The orders: delay the payroll tax, defer student loan payments, ask agencies to “consider” ways to halt evictions, and creates new federally backed unemployment payments.
The payments will include $300 from the federal government, paid out of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Relief Fund, which is typically used for events like hurricanes and wildfires. States will have the option to include an extra $100 for unemployment assistance, which several Democratic governors have warned could bankrupt their states.
“The president sat back for two weeks as these negotiations played out and decided he would take unilateral executive action to ensure that Americans hit by this pandemic, through no fault of their own, were taken care of,” McEnany said.
Democrats and a Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (NE) has called the president’s actions unconstitutional and an overstep of his authority. The White House says the orders were perfectly within the president’s powers.
On Monday, Mnuchin said the new unemployment benefits could take one to two weeks to make their way to Americans. He also left the door open for further negotiations with Democrats on the hill.
Congressional Democrats reportedly walked away from earlier negotiations because they felt the Trump Administration was not providing enough support to Americans grappling with economic issues.
Democrats also accused the Trump Administration of defunding Social Security and Medicare by cutting the payroll taxes that fund both entitlement programs.
“We will make sure that doesn’t happen,” McEnany replied when asked about those claims. “It’s very important to this president to protect American seniors and that means protecting social security.”