Pelosi, McConnell others meet for funding, reduction
The four leading congressmen will meet on Tuesday to try to close deals to fund the government and send out another round of coronavirus aid while millions of Americans await help.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Convened the meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., When Congress has run out of time to address both issues. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who spoke to Pelosi for more than an hour on Tuesday, will be calling the congressional leaders at 4 p.m.
The meeting marks the most significant effort so far for the four heads of state and government to reach a bipartisan agreement on a package that could come through a divided Congress. Without action by Congress, government funds will expire on Saturday and 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas.
“We are not going to leave here without a Covid package,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “It won’t happen. We will stay here until we get a Covid package, no matter how long it takes.”
Congress has failed to send new aid for months as the pandemic expands the capacity of the health system and millions of Americans search for a meal and pay their rent. The impending expiry of financial lifelines, a weakening economy, and the need for money to ensure Covid-19 vaccines get to health care workers and older Americans have forced lawmakers to seek a compromise once and for all.
A simple, bipartisan group of senators and officials helped bring Congress leaders closer to drawing up an aid package. Lawmakers on Monday released a plan that would put more than $ 700 billion in small business loans, unemployment insurance, vaccine distribution, education and rental support.
The negotiators in the group urged their party leaders to pass the law immediately, or at least use it as a template for a final agreement.
It would extend the pandemic unemployment benefits programs that benefit 12 million people and add a weekly unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week for 16 weeks. It would also maintain a federal eviction moratorium for an additional month through January 31, and extend the federal student loan forbearance through April 1.
It would not include direct payments, which many lawmakers have identified as crucial in providing adequate assistance to families in difficulty. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Have insisted that Congress put a second stimulus check of $ 1,200 on an auxiliary bill.
The entire bipartisan group has not signed a separate part of the proposal dealing with corporate liability protection and state and local relief – two issues that have repeatedly blocked progress towards an agreement. McConnell has asked Congress to repeal both provisions for the time being.
Still, Pelosi and Schumer have called for money for state and local governments that are essential to maintaining jobs in the public sector.
Despite the differences of opinion, the leaders of Congress have insisted they not go on vacation without approving an emergency package. They hope to link the auxiliary provisions to a government spending bill that the appropriators could publish on Tuesday.
McConnell said “it’s still my hope” that Congress will find a bulk funding agreement to keep the government going through September 30, 2021.
Democrats have given up any coronavirus bailout bill they would pass this week as a down payment until President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
The US is currently routinely recording more than 200,000 coronavirus cases every day. Covid-19 kills thousands of Americans every week and has now killed more than 300,000 people nationwide.
The country got a glimmer of hope on Monday as the coronavirus vaccinations began. But as the virus spreads nationwide, Americans will continue to die, and the economy will struggle to recover on its own in the months when most people can get a shot.
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