Negotiations on next aid package move on slowly

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WASHINGTON — Negotiations have slowed on a COVID-19 relief bill, which is expected to grow considerably from a $1 trillion-plus GOP draft released this week. Top Democrats announced a meeting with administration representatives for Saturday morning after Thursday night talks at the Capitol failed to produce a breakthrough.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters after Republicans had made four new proposals and Democrats had made no counteroffers that Democrats were refusing to negotiate.

Meadows tweeted, Tonight, once again, the White House offered a temporary extension of needed unemployment assistance—which expires tomorrow. And again, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said no. What we’re seeing is clear. This is a politically motivated party that won’t take “yes” for an answer.”

The White House on Thursday offered a one-week extension of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit, top Democrats said, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected it.

An aide familiar with the talks said Pelosi rejected an administration offer of a four-month extension of the benefit at $400 per week, combined with additional provisions for particularly hard-hit businesses and a shield against lawsuits for businesses, schools and other entities that reopen.

Republicans in the Senate had b

een fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but Trump Friday, tweeted “Very disappointed in @SenSchumer for blocking the temporary extension of the $600 unemployment benefits. The Do Nothing Democrats are more interested in playing politics than in helping our deserving people.”

The bill, the fifth since the pandemic has struck, is likely the last one before the November election.

Also at issue in the negotiations is an almost $1 trillion Democratic demand for funding for state and local governments. At issue is whether funds will be used to pay COVID-19 expenses or used to bail out previous government mismanagement,

Democrats also want a second $1,200 direct payment to most American adults and more than $100 billion to help schools reopen.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, wants a liability shield measure.

—AP stories contributed to this report.

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