WPRI 12 News Washington DC Bureau

Lawmakers at a standstill over COVID-19 relief: ‘We’re not close to an agreement yet’

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Unemployment benefits expired last week for millions of Americans, and lawmakers are working to come to a consensus on another round of relief for those who have been out of work due to COVID-19.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said the increased consumer spending that followed the implementation of the initial benefits has helped starve off an economic disaster.

He said those benefits should continue for the next several months at least, so the economy can recover.

“Not only are people going to go hungry, but the entire economy will collapse,” Murphy said.

Murphy is against the GOP plan to cut the federal unemployment benefits by $400 per week, but said finding an alternative plan has proven difficult.

“We just don’t even have anybody to negotiate with on the Republican side yet because they’re just so all over the map,” Murphy said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said negotiations are progressing, but they still have a ways to go.

“There are lots of things that we’re still divided on and we’re not close to an agreement yet,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there are areas of agreement, but major road blocks remain.

“The Democrats right now are insisting on over a trillion dollars to the state and local governments,” Mnuchin said. “That’s something that we’re not going to do.”

Lawmakers only have one week to strike a deal before running into a scheduled month-long recess.

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