Slight progress made on virus relief pack­age

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - BY ANDREW TAY­LOR

WASH­ING­TON — Ne­go­tia­tors on a huge coro­n­avirus relief bill re­ported slight progress af­ter talks re­sumed Mon­day af­ter­noon in the Capi­tol, with is­sues like food for the poor and aid to schools strug­gling to re­open safely as­sum­ing a higher pro­file in the talks.

Mul­ti­ple ob­sta­cles re­main, in­clud­ing an im­passe so far on ex­tend­ing a $600-per-week pan­demic job­less ben­e­fit, fund­ing for the Postal Ser­vice, and aid to renters fac­ing evic­tion. Demo­cratic ne­go­tia­tors spoke of progress at al­most the very mo­ment that top Se­nate Repub­li­can Mitch McCon­nell was slam­ming them for tak­ing a hard line in the talks.

“We are re­ally get­ting an un­der­stand­ing of each side’s po­si­tion. And we’re mak­ing some progress on cer­tain is­sues mov­ing closer to­gether,” said Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “There are a lot of is­sues that are still out­stand­ing. But I think there is a de­sire to get some­thing done as soon as we can.”

Af­ter the meet­ing, Pelosi told her Demo­cratic col­leagues on a call that she’s hope­ful a deal could be reached this week but doesn’t know if it’s pos­si­ble, ac­cord­ing to a Demo­cratic aide.

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin, a lead ne­go­tia­tor for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, said after­ward that “we con­tinue to make a lit­tle bit of progress” and that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is not in­sis­tent on a small-bore ap­proach cen­tered on ex­tend­ing the sup­ple­men­tal un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit and leav­ing other items for later. A GOP move to ad­vance a slimmed­down relief pack­age has been a re­cent point of con­flict, with Democrats in­sist­ing there must be a com­pre­hen­sive deal.

“We’re open to a big­ger pack­age if we can reach an agree­ment,” Mnuchin said.

PA­TRICK MAR­LEY/MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL-SEN­TINEL VIA AP

Wis­con­sin Supreme Court Jus­tice Jill Karof­sky (mid­dle) is sworn in by fel­low Jus­tice Rebecca Dal­let (right) as her chil­dren, Danny and Daphne, and for­mer Gov. Jim Doyle look on.

Steven Mnuchin

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