House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use a bipartisan stimulus plan of $ 908 billion as the basis for relief talks since the Congress is trying to get help to the Americans before the end of the year.
In a joint statement, the democratic leaders advocated a tighter aid approach than before. The California and New York Democrats had insisted on legislation costing at least $ 2.2 trillion.
“While we made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe that the bipartisan framework introduced yesterday by the Senators should serve as the basis for immediate bicameral bipartisan negotiations,” said Schumer and Pelosi.
Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Was due to speak to McConnell on Wednesday about a pandemic relief effort. Previously, House Democrat # 2 had told reporters he hoped the parties could close a deal by the end of the weekend and see it off by next week.
This would require a quick compromise in the event of ongoing disputes on key issues. McConnell signaled Tuesday that he wants aid to be tied to a government funding bill that Congress must pass by December 11.
In a possible sign that Democrats might agree to tie coronavirus provisions to a spending measure, Hoyer said Wednesday that he would like to finalize House Legislation by the same date.
“The need is great, it is immediate, it is urgent and I think we certainly have the ability to act,” he said. “By the way, Senator McConnell agrees.”
Renewed efforts to close a deal follow months of jam for relief. Both parties have called for the relief bill to be passed before the end of 2020, but have fundamentally different views on what to do to boost the economy and health care system.
Protections for unemployed Americans, renters and federal student loan borrowers will expire later this year as the US outbreak worsens and states and cities tighten restrictions.
Ordinary lawmakers tabled a non-partisan aid proposal worth $ 908 billion on Tuesday. McConnell then turned it down and offered his own, smaller plan, which he said had the support of President Donald Trump.
Pelosi and Schumer did not clearly endorse the proposal. They said that “we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that by negotiating in good faith we could come to an agreement.”
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on Tuesday for the first time since late October. The California Democrat said Mnuchin told her he would consider both the bipartisan proposal and an unspecified offer that the leading Congressional Democrats made to GOP leaders on Monday.
On Wednesday, McConnell suggested the sides had reached a more productive stage of the talks.
“In the past few days, democratic leaders have shown a new willingness to engage in good faith,” he said in the Senate.
It remains to be seen whether the heads of state and government can agree on a measure at the end of the year, as the GOP demands significantly less spending than the Democrats. Both parties have recognized that Congress will likely have to consider another auxiliary bill next year after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
McConnell’s proposal on Tuesday mainly deals with small business loans, education and the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. It also protects companies from virus-related lawsuits. Democratic leaders reject broad liability protection.
The Democrats have pushed for the reintroduction of the improved federal unemployment insurance payments and new state and local state aid to be offered. McConnell’s proposal would temporarily extend the extension of unemployment benefits, but does not include additional payments.
The Republicans’ plan also does not provide for state and local aid.
Several Senate Republicans helped draft the bipartisan proposal presented on Tuesday. It includes both state and local grants and increased unemployment benefits of $ 300 per week.
But other GOP senators have moved closer to McConnell’s position. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Downplayed the need for further government and local aid on Wednesday when he called for a small relief bill.
“I think there are some things we can do constructively. But it should be a lot closer, it should be to scale,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box.
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