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Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, attends a press conference August 7 at the Capitol in Washington. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, in a letter to fellow Democrats, tore up the upcoming Republican, scaled-down Senate stimulus proposal, highlighting the massive chasm that continues to exist between the parties in negotiations for a new plan to coronavirus relief.

“Republicans may call their proposal ‘skinny’, but it would be more appropriate to call it ’emaciated’,” Schumer wrote to members Thursday. “Their proposal seems wholly inadequate and, in all respects, fails to meet the needs of the American people.”

Here is some general information: The letter sets the stage for a partisan battle that will resume in earnest when Senators return from the summer period next week. Discussions between Schumer, House of Commons Speaker Nancy Pelosi and senior White House officials imploded nearly a month ago and have yet to progress in the weeks that followed. Democrats have been pushing for a massive, multi-trillion-dollar proposal to provide funding to schools, states and localities for rental assistance, health care providers and small businesses.

Treasure Sec. Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, key GOP negotiators, have repeatedly rejected the Democratic lead line and insisted on moving a smaller-scale package consisting mostly of areas where at least one higher bipartisan agreement exists. Pelosi and Schumer refused, lambasting Republicans for underestimating the scale of need created by the worst pandemic in a century.

The dynamic has led to an increasingly pessimistic view on Capitol Hill that a new relief program – following on from the $ 2.2 trillion CARES Act – is even possible at all. Meadows, in private conversations with Senate Republicans, reiterated that he does not believe a deal is possible with the Democrats given their current position, multiple sources told CNN.

“It’s hard to go more than a month with literally zero progress,” one person involved in the negotiations told CNN. “Yet that is exactly what happened.”

A split with serious consequences: The divide has massive ramifications for the weeks to come, as the country continues to grapple with the economic devastation created by the pandemic and the public policy response to it, and lawmakers themselves grapple with the crisis. threat of a government shutdown at the end of September if agreement is not reached on a comprehensive financing measure.

And all of this comes as control of the Senate – and the White House itself – is at stake in an increasingly heated election season.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has remained out of direct negotiations between Democratic leaders and the White House, made it clear that the rift between the two sides remains large, saying on Wednesday that talks remain within a ” dead end”.

“I can tell you that I think we need to come to an agreement and it’s harder to do now because we’re so much closer to the election,” McConnell said. “The spirit of cooperation we had in March and April has dissipated as we get closer and closer to the elections.”

The GOP Senate leadership, for weeks, has been working behind the scenes to build internal consensus on a scaled-down or “skinny” proposal, which would give the party the opportunity to show a unified front in a floor vote. , said aides. The proposal, which would include funding for education, small business, a reduction in enhanced federal unemployment benefits and liability protections, was circulated among members but was not made public.

The proposal has been discussed at length in regular conference calls between Republicans in the Senate and top White House negotiators.

Republican leaders are heading for a procedural vote to pass the GOP’s proposal next week if it locks out more than 50 GOP supporters – what aides say Republicans are on the right track, especially as Republican senators frontline workers face tough re-election battles in November.

“We’re close,” a senior GOP aide told CNN. “I think everyone recognizes that we have members at our conference who need to show that we are working to solve the problems people are facing right now.”

Schumer’s letter, however, makes it clear that the effort would be blocked by Democrats, bringing both sides back to a baseline that has consisted of hours of negotiations and discussions, but little or no sign that a The total difference of nearly a trillion dollars – and the significant hurdles that exist in the details of the policy themselves – will be resolved in the short term.

“It is clear that Republicans are trying to ‘tick the box’ and make the appearance of action rather than actually meeting the really deep needs of the American people,” Schumer wrote to his colleagues.

Read the full story here.


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