Washington, Oct 21 (IANS) After months of discussions on a new Covid-19 relief package aimed at assisting American businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, top US negotiators appeared to have made a little progress, but still no breakthrough as key differences remained.
The development comes after a 45-minute call on Tuesday between Speaker of the Democrat-led House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Taking to Twitter, Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said: “Today’s deadline enabled the Speaker and Secretary to see that decisions could be reached and language could be exchanged, demonstrating that both sides are serious about finding a compromise.”
The Speaker and Mnuchin are slated to speak again on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Pelosi had said that the White House and Congressional lawmakers must reach an agreement in the next 48 hours if they want to pass a new relief package before the November 3 presidential election.
Of the remaining difference, the Speaker has singled out two: additional funding for state and local governments, sought by Democrats; and liability language, demanded by Republicans, to protect businesses and schools from lawsuits in the event that workers and students contract the virus, reports The Hill news website.
Meanwhile, the Republican-majority Senate will vote on a $500 billion coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced.
McConnell’s announcement came after President Donald Trump’s administration made a new $1.8 trillion package offer on October 9.
According to the Senate Majority leader, the new bill will include a federal unemployment benefit, another round of small-business assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), more than $100 billion for schools, as well as money for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine development and distribution, The Hill news website reported.
For the new bill to pass in the Senate, it will need 60 Democratic votes.
Democratic lawmakers had previously blocked a similar Republican legislation.
In July, Republicans initially offered a $1.1 trillion package, but 52 Republican Senators later backed a scaled-down $500 billion bill.