Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested on Thursday that coronavirus relief talks might be coming back to life, after months of impasse.
During a news conference in New York, Schumer told reporters that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had agreed to staff-level talks on another aid package.
“There’s a little bit of good news, as of today,” Schumer said. “They’ve agreed to sit down, and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good Covid relief bill. So there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough in that McConnell’s folks are finally sitting down and talking to us.”
Republican aides, however, disputed Schumer’s characterization and said that Democrats were conflating the omnibus spending bill and a Covid relief bill.
Schumer’s remarks come as Senate and House leadership staff are meeting on Thursday to discuss an omnibus spending bill and a separate Covid relief package, according to a senior Democratic aide. The Senate will return Nov. 30 and immediately face a Dec. 11 deadline to fund the government.
Several provisions are also set to expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act, including pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, an eviction moratorium and state and local funding.
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases continue to rise at a record pace. More than 250,000 Americans have died from the virus, and the Centers for Disease Control recommended on Thursday that Americans refrain from traveling for Thanksgiving.
Talks on another relief package have remained at a standstill for months, and whether leaders of both parties can overcome partisan division to deliver much-needed relief to millions of Americans during the lame duck session remains to be seen. Among the biggest sticking points between Democrats and Republicans remains the price tag for the package.
Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.