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Democrats, Republicans hope for COVID-19 relief bill this week

By Don Jacobson
Democrats, Republicans hope for COVID-19 relief bill this week
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer speak to reporters on Friday after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try and work out an agreement on a new coronavirus relief package. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Democratic and White House negotiators have yet to resume talks Monday toward finding an agreement on the next round COVID-19 relief, but both sides are hopeful for a deal this week.

For days last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer discussed a compromise with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on a stimulus bill, which is expected to include another direct payment to Americans.

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The House and Senate have proposed differing measures and the negotiators are hoping to meet somewhere in the middle. Mnuchin and Meadows are negotiating for Senate Republicans.

Monday, Mnuchin said the Trump administration wants to resume negotiations with Democrats and is willing to offer more spending.

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"The president is determined to spend what we need to spend," he told CNBC. "We're prepared to put more money on the table."

Talks broke down Friday without a deal. Democrats have asked for spending of at least $3 trillion -- including funds to help states with relief aid -- while Republicans have countered with proposals worth about $1 trillion.

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Monday, Mnuchin said Democrats appear more "willing to compromise" after talks failed throughout last week.

RELATED Stimulus relief negotiators hope for deal this week

"If we can get a fair deal, we're willing to do it this week," he said.

Friday, Pelosi said Democrats were willing to cut their proposal by $1 trillion if Republicans added $1 trillion to theirs. She said the offer was rejected by the White House.

"They said absolutely not," she said.

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Mnuchin and Meadows disputed that Democrats offered to cut $1 trillion from their proposal, and said they were insistent on reviving enhanced federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week throughout 2020. That benefit expired late last month.

In the absence of a deal, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders over the weekend, including a measure for a $400 weekly enhanced payment. The others covered eviction protections, student loan relief and a payroll tax deferral.

Monday, Schumer called Trump's orders "unworkable, weak and far too narrow."

"They have to meet us in the middle," he told CNBC. "They just can't come to the table and say, 'It's my way or the highway.'"

Both sides have expressed confidence that a deal will be done soon, but neither speculated how soon.

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