- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Friday Republicans are waiting until the last minute to begin working on a new coronavirus package.

“The pressure on Republican senators is mounting. They’re afraid to buck Donald Trump, who has shown no leadership,” the New York Democrat said on MSNBC. “We’re waiting until the end. They’re going to be forced to do something. We Democrats are not going to settle for tiny little measures that do a little of this and a little of that.”

More than four months since Congress passed its first coronavirus emergency spending bill in March, lawmakers are looking at pulling together a deal on a fifth package to help as the country stumbles into its reopening phase.

Mr. Schumer said that July 31 is an impending deadline for those getting rental assistance and unemployment benefits from the government that were boosted when the pandemic shuttered the economy.

Republican leaders say that they’ll be able to pull together a bill before the end of the month, a deadline House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also confident in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber is set to begin work on potential next bill when it reconvenes in mid-July.

“First of all, I’m not leaving for two weeks,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told reporters.

“They’ve made their overtures,” she added. “They also have said publicly ‘this or that’ should be in the next bill. So we anticipate we will have a bill.”

House Democrats passed their offer for the next coronavirus bill nearly two months ago — a $3 trillion stimulus package that would provide for a surge in state and local funding, an additional round of direct payments to the public, with additional funds for vote-by-mail initiatives and the struggling U.S. Postal Service.

Republicans have dismissed that massive package as an overpriced partisan wish-list and want to focus on including liability protections for health care providers and small business owners.

One of the biggest sticking points will be how Congress addresses unemployment benefits — which currently give $600 a week for those out of work during the pandemic. It was one of the more controversial parts of the $2 trillion CARES Act that passed in April.

President Trump, meanwhile, has signaled his support for another round of stimulus checks.

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