Congress, White House talk coronavirus aid as U.S. infections surge By Reuters

© Reuters. Vote to close debate on the motion to proceed to consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act


By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers and White House officials headed into a day of negotiations on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, aimed at hammering out an agreement on new coronavirus aid legislation as infections and deaths surged to record levels across the country.

The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House of Representatives have less than two weeks to agree on a legislative package before assistance runs out for tens of millions of Americans made jobless by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the two sides remained far apart over how much money to spend and which priorities to spend it on, as the United States led the world with more than 3.8 million coronavirus cases and over 140,900 deaths.

Thirty-two states have reported record increases in COVID-19 cases in July and 15 states have reported record increases in deaths.

The House approved a $3 trillion coronavirus bill in May, which the Senate has ignored. Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their own legislation as early as this week. But there has been little evidence of consensus within their ranks.

“The Republicans don’t seem to have their own act together. It’s hard to negotiate when the president says one thing, Senate Republicans say another and many of them are divided,” Senate Democratic leader Schumer told CNN.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is due to host a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss coronavirus relief with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Schumer. Mnuchin and Meadows will meet separately with Senate Republicans.

“We hope they’re going to be unified and present something to us, present something to us in detail,” Schumer said.

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