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Coronavirus Live Updates: McConnell Signals Openness to Jobless Aid Extension

Coronavirus Live Updates: McConnell Signals Openness to Jobless Aid Extension
Tens of millions of Americans have lost crucial jobless benefits, and lawmakers still can’t seem to agree on a relief measure. Israel’s troubled school reopenings could be a lesson for the U.S.

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Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, a Republican, said that masks would be mandatory in public and retail spaces statewide starting Tuesday.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, signaled he might be willing to accept the extension of the jobless-aid payments that many in his party oppose.

As talks drag on, McConnell signals openness to jobless aid extension, and negotiators agree on a deadline.

Negotiators on Capitol Hill reported little progress on Tuesday toward reaching an agreement over an economic recovery package. But the top Senate Republican signaled that he might be willing to reverse course and accept the extension of $600-per-week jobless-aid payments that many in his party oppose if it would yield a compromise, and the White House and congressional Democrats agreed to an end-of-the-week deadline to seal a deal.
“The American people, in the end, need help,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, told reporters. “And wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team that has to sign it into law and the Democrat not-insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House is something I am prepared to support, even if I have some problems with certain parts of it.”
Democrats have rejected narrow proposals extending the expired benefits, insisting that the problem must be dealt with in a broader package of relief measures. They also want aid for states and cities whose budgets have been crippled.
Mr. McConnell’s comments came after he and other Republicans huddled privately over lunch with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary. Afterward, Republican senators who have largely sat out the talks sounded downbeat about striking a deal before they are scheduled to begin a monthlong recess on Friday.“We want to take care of the eviction problem,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference. “People are being evicted unfairly. It’s not their fault. It’s China’s fault.”
The president blamed the Democrats for rejecting White House offers to pass a short-term extension of the expired unemployment benefits and said the only thing Democrats “really want to do is bail out states that have been poorly managed by Democrats.”But later, after a meeting with Mr. Meadows and Mr. Mnuchin, top Democrats indicated there had been progress.
“They made some concessions, which we appreciated; we made some concessions, which they appreciated,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said after the 90-minute meeting, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California hosted in her Capitol Hill suite. “We’re still far away on a lot of the important issues, but we’re continuing to go at it.”
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Tens of millions of Americans have lost crucial unemployment benefits that formally expired on Friday, and economists warn that permanent damage could be wrought on the economy without action.
Republican leaders have put forward their own plan to extend the weekly benefit at a significantly lower level. But many of their own rank-and-file members oppose even that, giving them little leverage against the united Democrats.
At the White House, Mr. Trump continued to dangle the possibility that he could circumvent Congress and take executive action to halt evictions nationwide and suspend the payroll tax. It is far from clear that the president has the power to do either of these unilaterally, but his deputies appeared to be using the possibility as a negotiating tactic with Democrats — and to get around the objections even within Mr. Trump’s own party on the payroll-tax issue.

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