By David Morgan and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans and Democrats in Congress remained unable to reach agreement on fresh relief for a pandemic-hit U.S. economy on Wednesday, with top Republicans supporting what the Senate’s top Democrats dismissed as an “inadequate, partisan proposal.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump supported a proposal put forth by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after McConnell on Tuesday rejected a $908 billion bipartisan package.
McConnell’s outline is very close to the legislation that the Senate leader has been touting for months and was rejected by Democrats, according to one Senate Republican source. The plan includes $332.7 billion in new loans or grants to small businesses, according to a document provided to Reuters.
Adding to the pressure, the two parties face a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a $1.4 trillion budget or risk a shutdown of the government as the COVID-19 crisis worsens across the United States.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday he hoped the House and Senate leaders could agree on a coronavirus aid bill by the end of this weekend that would be folded into the budget package.
“I am hopeful that in the next few days that we will be able to come to an agreement on a bill that responds to the major crisis, at least in the short term,” Hoyer said.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Sandra Maler, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)