McConnell, Schumer, Pelosi did not have discussions

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Congress did not appear to be close to passing another coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday as infections rise across the country and new public health restrictions threaten businesses and jobs.Lawmakers have not passed new aid for months during the health and economic crisis. As the virus once again overwhelms hospitals and forces state and local authorities to curtail economic activity, Republicans and Democrats have not budged from their stance on the stimulus.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had not heard from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for about two weeks since the Republican of Kentucky had announced that he would take the head of the GOP in the next round of negotiations. Democrats have pushed for a package that costs at least $ 2.2 trillion, while Republicans want a bill of around $ 500 billion.

“If Leader McConnell and our fellow Republicans want to sit down and negotiate a bipartisan solution, with a bipartisan process, Democrats are ready and willing and able to do it,” said Schumer, DN.Y.

McConnell and Pelosi have both indicated they want to pass legislation this year, before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. But none of the leaders have shown any willingness to cede ground, which leaves no room for knowing what might pass through the GOP-controlled Senate and the Democratic-held House.

President Donald Trump has also devoted more of his energy over the past two weeks to fighting the 2020 election results than to governing during a crisis once in a century.

McConnell has insisted in recent days that the pace of the economic recovery means Congress need only adopt a narrow, focused plan to get the country through over the next few months. On Tuesday, he said Republicans “wanted to push through more coronavirus relief,” but accused Democrats of blocking bills the GOP has tried to push through in recent weeks.

The legislation would include an enhanced unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week, more Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, and liability protections for businesses. He wouldn’t send a second direct payment to most Americans.

Pelosi, a Californian Democrat, continued to push for a sweeping package after House Democrats passed a $ 2.2 trillion bill last month. She argued that Biden’s election gave Democrats more weight in legislative discussions. Biden on Monday called on Congress to pass a bill similar to the Democratic Heroes Act before taking office.

The bill passed by the House would reinstate the extra $ 600 per week unemployment benefit that expired earlier this year, give individuals another $ 1,200 stimulus check, send more than $ 400 billion to government governments. States and local and would allow more small business loans, among other provisions.

Spokesmen for Pelosi and McConnell did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether the spike in infections made executives more likely to pass a bill immediately.

Congress has failed to break the deadlock as the United States loses control of the Covid-19 epidemic. The country recorded a seven-day average of more than 150,000 cases per day on Monday.

The virus has now killed more than 247,000 Americans.

State and local governments have started to reinstate shutdowns to slow infections. Even so, some policymakers have not acted as quickly as public health officials would like, as they attempt to balance concerns about corporate bankruptcy and workers falling into poverty in the absence of help. federal.

A measure allowing Americans to qualify for unemployment insurance for a longer period during the pandemic expires at the end of the year. So make an order from the Trump administration to curb evictions and relieve federal student loan borrowers.

Promising vaccine trial data has raised hopes that the world will emerge from the shadow of the pandemic early. Even so, it will likely take until at least the middle of 2021 for most Americans to get vaccinated.

Getting people vaccinated against Covid-19 will also require more federal help. GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who like his party has called for a smaller relief bill than Democrats want, has urged Congress to pass legislation now in part to prepare the distribution of vaccines.

“It’s expensive and it’s important to make sure the resources are there for it,” he told CNBC on Tuesday.

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