KEY POINTS

  • McConnell reportedly agreed to resume negotiations with Democrats
  • Democrats and Republicans have failed to reach an agreement on another coronavirus relief for months
  • McConnell refuses to support a legislation with a price tag higher than $500 billion

The Congress may have a "breakthrough" after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, reportedly agreed to resume negotiations with Democrats over another coronavirus relief package. 

In a news conference Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said McConnell is "sitting down" with Democrats again to discuss the pending COVID-19 relief bill and a possible second round of stimulus checks.

“Last night, they’ve agreed to sit down and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good Covid relief bill,” Schumer told reporters.

“So there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough in that McConnell’s folks are finally sitting down and talking to us.”

However, congressional aides believe the minority leader may have oversold this development. The Senate adjourned on Wednesday with little evidence that both parties were close to striking a deal, CNBC reported. Both senators' camps did not respond to requests for clarification.

The news comes as Democrats and Republicans have been locked in a stalemate for months over the budget of another stimulus bill. Hopes were renewed when President-elect Joe Biden on Monday called on Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package and deliver financial aid to workers and businesses. 

“Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago. Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses, then we can build back better than ever before,” he tweeted. 

Biden is also pushing Congress to pass a $3 trillion package that House Democrats passed in May. The bill, which was never brought to the Senate floor, included provisions for a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks to families and individuals. It also revived the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits. 

Democrats have also proposed a $2.2 trillion package after the GOP refused to bring their previous relief bill to a vote. 

However, McConnell previously said he would not support legislations north of $500 billion and insisted that a narrow and targeted package may be more suitable. The majority leader also slammed the Democrat’s $3.4 trillion stimulus package as “unserious,” Business Insider reported.

"House Democrats' so-called 'HEROES Act' is so unserious that it was condemned by the Speaker's own moderate Democrats the instant she put it out. Huge tax cuts for rich people in blue states, but no second round of the Paycheck Protection Program? Those are their priorities?" McConnell tweeted. 

Biden is expected to negotiate with House Speaker Pelosi and Schumer in Delaware on Friday.

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned President Donald Trump against more reductions of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned President Donald Trump against more reductions of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB