Pelosi, Schumer urge McConnell to restart coronavirus relief talks

Democrats, Republicans remain at odds over virus relief package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to resume negotiations on another coronavirus relief package with the clock running out for Congress to strike a deal before year's end.

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“We write to request that you join us at the negotiating table this week so that we can work towards a bipartisan, bicameral Covid-19 relief agreement,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a letter to McConnell on Tuesday.

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They said they were encouraged by the Kentucky Republican's comments after the 2020 election, in which he called for more stimulus and said, "It's a possibility we will do more for state and local governments."

McConnell has repeatedly expressed support for a "highly targeted" bill that would cost around $500 billion, while Democratic leaders have pushed for a package that costs at least $2.2 trillion.

“I am open to a targeted bill roughly of the amount that we recommended, a half-trillion dollars, which is not nothing,” McConnell said Tuesday.

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While there is broad support among members of both parties to pass another coronavirus relief bill, they disagree sharply over the size and scope of it. With just 12 legislative days left in their calendar, it's unclear whether lawmakers will be able to strike a deal before the year ends.

“Millions of unemployed Americans and those facing eviction and hunger demand action from their leaders. The time to act is upon us like never before,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote in their letter.

For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement over another round of emergency relief for families and businesses still reeling from the pandemic after they passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March.

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Key policy differences, including funding for a virus testing plan, aid to state and local governments and tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, have confounded lawmakers since May, and they remain no less of a challenge in the wake of the 2020 election.

Pelosi and McConnell have yet to hold any new talks on an aid package.