COVID relief package negotiations continue

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It could be a posture. One would hope to reach an agreement that can be announced by check in the mail before election day.But congressional lawmakers are hoping the elements will come together for yet another stimulus package for the COVID-19 pandemic that could send billions of dollars in aid to states and local governments.

The comprehensive package envisioned by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be worth $ 2.2 trillion, sending $ 500 billion to local and state governments. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded with a smaller proposal that would send $ 250 billion to states.

“Our goal from the start has been to bring the negotiators back to the table and reignite the conversation on the stimulus,” the bipartisan problem-solvers caucus said in a statement.

The group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers is co-led by Republican Representative Tom Reed of the Southern Tier region.

“It’s evident that the full bipartisan framework of the Problem Solvers Caucus has done just that and helped change the national conversation,” the group said. “We commend President Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin for returning to the room and taking steps in the right direction to reach an agreement. ”

New York needs billions of dollars in aid to close a swelling budget deficit that was opened up by the economic crisis amid the pandemic. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned that a mix of tax increases, borrowing and spending cuts would be needed if federal aid is not approved.

Uncertainty has further clouded life at the municipal level, with some local governments and school districts forecasting budget cuts that could lead to serious layoffs.

Cuomo remained bullish this week even as the stimulus measure has stalled since June. But he also argued that New York was not “responsible” for the federal government’s response to the virus.

“Who knows what they’re going to do in Congress, right?” Cuomo said. “They look at all the polls. They know what is in their best interest. “

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