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White House Democrats agree to try to reach a coronavirus deal by the end of the week

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to the media while White House chief of staff Mark Meadows listens in the United States Capitol on Tuesday.

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After more than a week of near-daily face-to-face meetings, Trump officials and congressional democratic leaders have agreed to attempt a coronavirus bill by the end of the week.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Capitol Hill late Tuesday about the new timeline.

“We are pleased to report that while we still have many outstanding issues – I just want to be very clear, we are not about to make a deal – but we have tried to establish a timeline that we will try to reach an overall agreement by the end of this week, if we can, so that the legislation can be adopted next week, ”said Mnuchin.

A democratic assistant confirmed that the party leaders agreed on the timeline.

Mnuchin, accompanied by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, has had regular consultations with house speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer since July 27, but the quartet has publicly seen only sporadic – and usually unspecified – progress reported. Tuesday’s announcement marks the most significant progress so far in talks on a new stimulus bill, even though details were also lacking.

‘We will be working around the clock in the coming days to see if we can bridge the problems. We’ve come to an agreement on some issues, there are still some major issues, ”Mnuchin said, adding that the pair will be back on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, after meeting Mnuchin and Meadows, Pelosi had also signaled a thaw in the conversations.

“We agree that we want to enter into an agreement. And in that case, we’ll say that’s our goal – let’s tell the engineer what to do to get that done, ”Pelosi told reporters.

However, the gap between the two sides was significant at the start of the talks and it is unclear how much, if any, has shrunk since the talks began. The bill passed by the Democratic House in May would cost $ 3.4 trillion between 2020 and 2030, while the passive bill passed by the Senate Republicans but still to be voted on by the two-member committee would An estimated $ 1.1 trillion will cost a responsible federal budget for 10 years.

Aside from the cost, the two sides were also at odds with some key issues, such as how to revive a now-expired federal add-on to relive unemployment benefits that totaled $ 600 a week, as well as how much legal protection is afforded companies, schools and religious institutions from lawsuits related to coronavirus.

But other problems seemed to be easier to bridge. According to Sen. Marco Republican, a Florida Republican, is not far from each other to extend the Paycheck Protection Program again. And both Democrats and Republicans want to pay another round of $ 1,200 to support households.

“It is difficult. And in some cases we move along. In others we make more progress, but it will take time and tomorrow we will take more time,” said Pelosi.