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.
All sides predict a long slog ahead. Several more days of talks are expected, if not more, as lawmakers seek to deliver what will likely be the final legislative response to the pandemic before the November election.
"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."
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 slimmed-down relief package has been a recent point of conflict.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.