GOP, Dems commerce blows as COVID-19 stimulus talks stalled

Negotiations on coronavirus stimulus legislation are stalled on Capitol Hill as party leaders trade accusations that the other side is to blame.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday morning that Democrats “want to burn cash on 1,000 unrelated things” and “check off every left-wing lobbyist’s Christmas list.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) fired back in his own Senate floor speech, saying McConnell was pursuing a detached-from-reality “‘Alice in Wonderland’ style” by blaming Democrats.

Schumer said, “McConnell has admitted not once, not twice, not three times, but four times that there are as many as 20 Senate Republicans who will vote against any relief package for the American people. Those Republicans … seem to be the tail that wags the dog.”

Republican senators unveiled a $1 trillion coronavirus relief package last week that would give $1,200 stimulus checks to most people, shield companies from COVID-19 liability except in cases of gross negligence or misconduct, reduce a federal boost in unemployment to 70 percent of pre-pandemic pay and give schools $105 billion to reopen in the fall.

Democrats passed a rival $3 trillion package in the House in May that included almost $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments.

Republicans led by President Trump largely oppose state and local bailouts. Democrats, meanwhile, oppose the GOP liability protection plan and want to continue a $600 weekly supplement for unemployed people.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called on Republicans to give in and pass the Democrats’ legislation. Asked by CNN if there’s a price tag that she would agree to, Pelosi said, “Yeah, $3.4 trillion… At some point you just have to freeze the design.”

Some items are widely supported bipartisan policies, such as sending stimulus checks and extending a moratorium on evictions. But many conservatives, such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), say they are concerned about adding to the national debt.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Hill that “a sizable number” of Republicans don’t think Congress should “add on anything” for unemployment payments.

Trump said Monday he’s frustrated that Democrats are “slow-rolling” negotiations led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday “we’re moving down the track,” but the sides “still have our differences.”

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