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Meadows, Mnuchin make rare weekend trip to the Hill amid coronavirus relief talks

Meadows, Mnuchin make rare weekend trip to the Hill amid coronavirus relief talks

The pair of senior Trump administration officials said they were working out an unemployment insurance extension with Senate leadership.

Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left) and then-acting White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill in March. | AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

By MARIANNE LEVINE and JOHN BRESNAHAN

07/25/2020 05:18 PM EDT

In an unusual move, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows came to an empty U.S. Capitol on Saturday afternoon to huddle with Senate leadership staff.

The meeting comes as Senate Republicans and the White House are trying to reach an agreement on an initial coronavirus relief proposal that’s expected to be released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday.

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Mnuchin and Meadows said they were working out technical details on an unemployment insurance extension that has been a source of disagreement between the White House and Senate Republicans. The senior Trump administration officials downplayed those differences Saturday.

“We want to make sure we can extend UI but have the technical fix and not pay people more to stay home, that’s obviously a ridiculous concept,” Mnuchin said after the meeting. “We were always on the same page, this is a technical fix. We believe now that states will be able to transition to this new system.”

“There was a lot more written about the disagreements then there was actually disagreements,” Meadows added. “So Ithink it’s important to note that it made for great headlines but it wasn’t actually based in real facts in terms of any real discussions that were going on.”

The current $600 boost in unemployment benefits from the March CARES Act begins to expire this weekend.

The presence of two top administration officials in the Capitol on a Saturday afternoon with no senators around was not typical. Mnuchin and Meadows will also make media appearances Sunday.

The president and his administration are pushing for boosted unemployment payments that would make up 70 percent of workers’ income. GOP sources said the White House is raising new demands as part of the proposal, including manufacturing incentives.

“We’re going through a number of sections to make sure the detail matches our understanding of what should be in there, verifying a few of the manufacturing incentives to make sure we can support American jobs,” Meadows said prior to the meeting.

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