U.S. House speaker urges Republicans to resume negotiations on COVID-19 relief package

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 9, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

While the White House probably would consult with Republican lawmakers on details of a COVID-19 relief bill, it’s now unlikely to take the lead on talks, a report said.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday called on Republican lawmakers to resume negotiations on a new COVID-19 relief package as confirmed cases are surging across the country.

“Our focus in the Congress, now in this lame duck, continues to be on COVID-19 relief. This is a red alert,” Pelosi said at a press briefing.

“(Senate Democratic Leader Chuck) Schumer and I discussed yesterday this is an emergency of the highest magnitude, and yet our Republican colleagues want to focus elsewhere instead of recognizing this as a health emergency which science is giving us a path to crush,” she said.

“We must save lives and livelihoods, and yet Republicans in Congress continue their tactics of delay, distort, and deny, which has led to deaths,” Pelosi said, adding over 10 million Americans have been infected and 240,000 people have died because of this pandemic.

“I hope it would be an incentive for people to follow science all of the way to the vaccine, and in that score in our COVID bill, we do have sufficient fund — a great deal of funding for the vaccine,” said the speaker.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating a new COVID-19 relief package for months, but have failed to reach an agreement.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, July 28, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

The Trump administration is stepping back from negotiations on the relief package and leaving it to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to revive long-stalled talks with Pelosi, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

While the White House probably would consult with Republican lawmakers on details of a COVID-19 relief bill, it’s now unlikely to take the lead on talks, the report said.

McConnell on Tuesday renewed his push for a focused, targeted COVID-19 relief, and denounced Democrats’ proposal as “absurd” and “socialist.”

“Our country needs more smart, focused relief that is targeted to schools, healthcare, small businesses, & those who are hurting the most,” McConnell said in a tweet.

The Democrats-controlled House of Representatives in early October passed a 2.2-trillion-U.S.-dollar relief bill. Some Senate Republicans, however, insisted on a relief package below 1 trillion dollars, and failed to advance a 500-billion-dollar bill in late October.

Economists, as well as Federal Reserve officials, have repeatedly argued that more fiscal relief is needed to sustain the U.S. economic recovery, warning of dire consequences if further fiscal support is not provided in time.

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