White House, Democrats far apart as they renew talks on coronavirus relief package

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Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are expected to resume talks Tuesday afternoon with congressional Democratic leaders on a coronavirus aid package, as Democrats pan the Republicans‘ proposal.

“If they’re not even getting to the fundamentals of food and rent and economic survival, they’re not really ready to have a serious negotiation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday night after a two-hour meeting with administration officials.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said Democrats are “somewhat frustrated” with the GOP proposal.

“We had hoped there would be a bill, and instead in the Senate they’ve put little pieces here and there and everywhere,” Mr. Schumer said. “It’s pretty clear they don’t have 51 votes in the Senate for a proposal.”

Senate Republicans unveiled their $1 trillion plan, backed by the White House, on Monday. It calls for reducing federal weekly unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 for two months, until states could pay workers about 70% of lost wages.

Democrats’ plan, which would cost roughly $3.5 trillion, calls for extending the $600 weekly unemployment payments through the end of the year. They would provide nearly $1 trillion to states and cities whose budgets have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The GOP proposal also would add money to the Paycheck Protection Program, which helps small businesses keep employees on the payroll.

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