U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday signaled willingness to embrace a trimmed-down COVID-19 relief bill, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to join negotiations.
"In the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement, referring to a 908-billion-U.S.-dollar bipartisan bill.
"Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement," they said.
The Democrats-controlled House of Representatives passed a 2.2-trillion-dollar relief bill in early October, but Senate Republicans have recently been pushing for a 500-billion-dollar package. On Tuesday, McConnell quickly rejected the 908-billion-dollar bipartisan plan after its release.
"Families all across the country are experiencing the unthinkable, unbearable losses of their loved ones and many are falling into financial ruin because of the economic fallout of the pandemic," Pelosi and Schumer said.
"Economists are warning the U.S. economy will fall into double-dip recession without additional federal relief from Congress," they added.
"It's time for Leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country," they said.
McConnell, in a tweet, argued that Republicans have spent months proposing more COVID-19 relief. "I hope Democrats will finally let us get a bipartisan outcome soon," said the Senate Republican leader.
McConnell said earlier that the Congress should deliver more COVID-19 relief this year. On Tuesday, the Senate Republican leader signaled that he wants to tie coronavirus aid to a government funding bill that needs to be approved by Dec. 11.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, among others, has repeatedly called for more fiscal stimulus to boost the virus-ravaged economy over the next few months.
"The risk of overdoing it is less than the risk of under doing it," Powell said at a hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Tuesday, without offering detailed advice for Congress.