White House, Democrats at coronavirus stimulus stalemate

President Donald Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talk before Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday

The top Democrats in Congress are "not close yet" on reaching a deal with the White House to pump more money into the US economy to ease the coronavirus' heavy toll, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Saturday, after an essential lifeline for millions of unemployed Americans expired.

But bipartisan talks have yet to reach a serious, productive phase.

"I think they understand that we have to have a bill, but they just don't realize how big it has to be", Pelosi said, calling the short-term extension proposed by the White House negotiating team "worthless", CBS reports.

His plan quickly stalled after conservative Republican senators complained about its $1 trillion price tag and Democrats - plus some Republicans - criticized the package for containing non-COVID matters, such as funding for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters.

"They won't engage - period", McConnell said on the Senate floor.

But talks continued on Saturday, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sitting down for several hours with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 'The Democrats are saying, my way or the highway'.

Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are working on a temporary extension of the expanded unemployment insurance.

Schumer said both sides wanted to come to a deal.

Earlier this week, Republicans - who are now broken into groups of more moderate members and deficit hawks - proposed a $1 trillion stimulus plan that would keep increased benefits, but cut them by more than half to $200 a week.

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On Thursday, Senate Republicans tried, without success, to pass a bill reducing the jobless benefit to $200 per week.

In some of her toughest criticisms so far, she said that Republican delays on legislation and "distortions" about the pandemic "has caused death unnecessarily".

Republicans want a smaller relief plan than one passed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

Democrats are playing hardball, demanding much more than the $1 trillion that McConnell originally offered, arguing Americans need additional assistance. Money for states and cities is a crucial dividing line as local governments plead for help to shore up budgets and prevent deeper layoffs as they incur COVID-19 costs and lost tax revenue in shutdown economies.

However, Democrats rejected Trump's proposal, instead opting to try and pass a more comprehensive bill that would include more stimulus.

Republicans claim the unemployment benefits incentivize people not to work.

Republicans have also rejected the Democrats' push to expand food stamp aid, though their proposal included a measure that would double the "three-martini lunch" tax deduction, protect companies whose workers get sick from lawsuits and billions for military projects. Meadows played a role in killing an increase in food aid during talks on the $2 trillion relief bill in March. Democrats unanimously opposed the measure, authored by GOP Sens. If the Federal Bureau of Investigation moved its headquarters, the site would become prime real estate for a competing hotel.

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"In the middle of a pandemic, you don't cut the lifeline to millions of workers in this country", Brown told reporters, noting that the extra benefit is expiring as the same time as an eviction moratorium in the bill, and a moratorium on power and water shutoffs in many communities.

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