‘We’re not budging’: Efforts to restart coronavirus talks sputter

Talks between the two sides have been essentially nonexistent since negotiations fell apart earlier this month, with a trillion-dollar gulf separating the two parties and messy rounds of finger pointing about who is to blame. Democrats previously offered to negotiate a massive relief package around $2.4 trillion, far less than the $3.4 trillion bill the House passed in May. But Republicans have balked at that price tag, refusing to move beyond a $1 trillion target.

The resulting impasse has lingered for weeks, even as tens of millions of Americans face economic disaster, after Congress allowed increased federal unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium to lapse at the end of July.

Senate Republicans have been preparing a pared-down coronavirus relief bill over the August recess, which could be attached to any short-term funding bill to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30.

But Democrats have rejected the GOP “skinny” bill, saying it falls far short of what’s needed to help Americans recover both personally and economically from the ongoing devastating toll of the pandemic.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated Thursday at an event in Kentucky that talks are “at a stalemate” and said he couldn’t predict whether there would be a breakthrough.

“I can’t tell you today we’re going to reach an agreement on another rescue package, but here’s what I do think, I think we need another one,” McConnell said. “I’m hoping that we can come together once again because the coronavirus is not involved in the American election. It does not care who wins.”