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No New Aid Relief in Sight             08/13 06:22

    Americans counting on emergency coronavirus aid from Washington may have to 
wait until fall.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans counting on emergency coronavirus aid from 
Washington may have to wait until fall.

   Negotiations over a new virus relief package have all but ended, with the 
White House and congressional leaders far apart on the size, scope and approach 
for shoring up households, re-opening schools and launching a national strategy 
to contain the virus.

   President Donald Trump's top negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 
tried to revive stalled talks Wednesday, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the "overture," saying the 
Trump administration is still refusing to meet them halfway. Congressional 
Republicans are largely sitting out the talks.

   "The White House is not budging," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint 
statement.

   With the House and Senate essentially closed, and lawmakers on call to 
return with 24-hours notice, hopes for a swift compromise have dwindled. 
Instead, the politics of blame have taken hold, as the parties head into August 
focused on the presidential nominating conventions and lawmakers' own 
reelection campaigns.

   Trump said the Democrats are "holding the American people hostage."

   All indications are talks will not resume in full until Congress resumes in 
September, despite the mounting death toll, surpassing 161,000 in the U.S., and 
more than 5 million people infected.

   For Americans, that means the end of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that 
has expired, as has a federal ban on evictions. Schools hoping for cash from 
the federal government to help provide safety measures are left empty handed. 
States and cities staring down red ink with the shattered economy have few 
options.

   Trump's executive actions appeared to provide a temporary reprieve, offering 
$300 in jobless benefits and some other aid. But it could take weeks for those 
programs to ramp up, and the help is far slimmer than what Congress was 
considering. More than 20 million Americans risk evictions, and more are out of 
work.

   Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows briefed GOP senators 
privately on Wednesday. But congressional Republicans, who have left the 
negotiating largely to Democrats, seem satisfied there is enough money still 
available from previous aid packages, for now.

   Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put in motion the procedural steps to 
recess, possibly Thursday. The House is already gone.

   Because McConnell has such cool support from his ranks for any bill, 
Democrats are trying to push the White House to go bold. They want to maintain 
the $600 jobless benefit and provide nearly $1 trillion to the states and 
cities, nonstarters for the White House.

   While there is some common ground over $100 billion for schools and new 
funds for virus testing, Democrats also want other emergency funds that Trump 
rejects, including to shore up the U.S. Postal Service and election security 
ahead of the November election.

   "Democrats have compromised," Pelosi and Schumer said, noting that they 
dropped their initial $3 trillion-plus proposal by $1 trillion and expect 
Trump's team to raise its $1 trillion offer by a similar amount to $2 trillion. 
"However, it is clear that the Administration still does not grasp the 
magnitude of the problems that American families are facing."

   Their joint statement said Mnuchin made an "overture" to meet. The treasury 
secretary called the Democratic leaders on Wednesday, according to a person 
granted anonymity to discuss the private call.

   The Democrats said they are waiting for the White House to put a new offer 
on the table. "We have again made clear to the Administration that we are 
willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously."

   But Mnuchin shot back with his own statement, saying, "The Democrats have no 
interest in negotiating."

   Mnuchin said Pelosi's statement was "not an accurate reflection of our 
conversation. She made clear that she was unwilling to meet to continue 
negotiations unless we agreed in advance to her proposal, costing at least $2 
trillion."

   McConnell said the American people need help and "are not done fighting this 
virus."

 
 
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