Coronavirus: Republicans, Democrats signal readiness to sit down again over aid bill

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Aug. 6, 2020. (AFP)

US Republicans and Democrats both said Monday that they were ready to resume negotiations to agree on a new coronavirus relief bill for Americans.

President Donald Trump said that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “want to meet to make a deal.”

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Later in the day, Schumer said on the Senate floor that Democrats “remain ready to return to the table.” But the Democrat called for Republicans to “meet us halfway and work together to deliver immediate relief to the American people.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the US economy has been battered, and many companies were forced to lay off employees. The jobless benefits in the last relief bill expired on July 31.

But on Sunday, Trump signed executive orders aimed at extending the benefits without the approval of Congress.

Read more: Coronavirus: President Trump signs orders extending economic relief for Americans

One order aims to get $400 a week added to unemployment benefits, while two others offer some protection from evictions and relief for student loans.

A fourth measure – opposed by many Republicans as well as Democrats – orders a freeze in payroll taxes.

Republicans have argued that federal benefits should be trimmed because the combination of state and federal unemployment assistance left many people better off financially than they were before the pandemic and, therefore, disinclined to return to their jobs.

Read more: US Republicans, Democrats at loggerheads over new coronavirus relief package

Many Democrats contend that some people don’t feel safe going back to work when the coronavirus is surging again around the country.

Last week, Schumer told White House negotiators to agree to a legislative package at least $1 trillion larger than the $1 trillion bill that Senate Republicans had already proposed.

The White House rejected the offer, ending nearly two weeks of almost daily negotiations.

On Monday, Trump repeated claims that the Democrats were only wanted bailout money for “Democrat-run states and cities that are failing badly.”

Referring to the momentum for renewed talks, Trump said: “They know my phone number!”

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Last Update: Tuesday, 11 August 2020 KSA 00:01 - GMT 21:01
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