Congressional Democrats, White House ‘not close yet’ on coronavirus bill, Schumer says

2/2 © Reuters. Police officers wearing face masks guard the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington 2/2 By Diane Bartz and Jan Wolfe WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrats in Congress are not close to a deal with the White House to pump more money into the U.S. economy to ease the coronavirus’ heavy toll, both…

Congressional Democrats, White House ‘not close yet’ on coronavirus bill, Schumer says
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© Reuters. Police officers wearing face masks guard the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington
© Reuters. Police officers wearing face masks guard the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington

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By Diane Bartz and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrats in Congress are not close to a deal with the White House to pump more money into the U.S. economy to ease the coronavirus’ heavy toll, both sides said on Saturday, after an essential lifeline for millions of unemployed Americans expired.

“This was the longest meeting we had and it was more productive than the other meetings,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “There are many issues that are still very much outstanding.”

Schumer made the remarks after he and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi concluded a three-hour meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the Capitol on Saturday.

“We’re still a long ways apart and I don’t want to suggest a deal is imminent because it is not,” Mnuchin told reporters, adding “there are still substantial differences but we did make good progress.”

The officials will meet again on Monday, and their staff will meet on Sunday, Schumer said.

Congress for the past several months has been unable to reach an accord for a next round of economic relief from a pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 Americans and triggered the sharpest economic collapse since the Great Depression.

In a meeting on Thursday night between top White House officials and congressional Democratic leaders, negotiations focused on an extension of the $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits, which Americans who lost jobs because of the Health & Fitness crisis have been receiving in addition to state jobless payments.

Pelosi said on Friday that she rejected an offer by Republican President Donald Trump’s administration to continue the $600 payments for another week, saying she wanted a more comprehensive deal.

The House in May passed a $3 trillion deal that addressed a wide range of coronavirus responses, including more money for testing, for elections and support to financially strapped state and local governments.

“There is clearly a desire on their part to do an entire package,” Mnuchin told reporters. “We’ve made clear that we are willing to deal with the short-term issues and pass something quickly and come back to larger issues. So we are at an impasse on that.”

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