Democrats in Congress and White House, still without agreement on new pandemic aid plan

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WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Democratic leaders in Congress are still far from reaching an agreement with the White House to inject more funds into the US economy, in the midst of the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, both parties said on Saturday, then of a crucial unemployment benefits program expiring.

“This has been the longest meeting we’ve had and it was more productive than other meetings,” said Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer. “There are many issues that we have not yet resolved.”

Schumer made these remarks at the end of a three-hour meeting with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi; Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin; and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill Saturday.

“We are still a long way from an agreement and we do not want to suggest that compromise is imminent because it is not,” Mnuchin told reporters, adding that “there are substantial differences but we have made progress.”

Officials and lawmakers will meet again on Monday, and their delegates will negotiate on Sunday, Schumer said.

In recent weeks, Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on the next round of emergency financial aid for the pandemic, which has killed more than 150,000 Americans and caused the worst collapse in activity since the Great Depression. .

In a meeting Thursday night between senior White House officials and Democratic leaders in Congress, negotiators focused on extending the $ 600-a-week benefit to the unemployed Americans who have lost their jobs have been receiving, in addition to regular state subsidies.

Pelosi said Friday that he rejected an offer by the government of President Donald Trump to continue the $ 600 benefit for another week, arguing that he was seeking a broader pact.

In May, the House of Representatives approved a $ 3 billion package that addressed a series of difficulties caused by the coronavirus, including more funds to conduct discard tests and support to states that are experiencing severe financial problems.

“Clearly there is a desire on the other side to approve a complete package,” Mnuchin told reporters. “We have made it clear that we are willing to deal with short-term issues and approve something quickly and then turn to more general issues. So we are at a standstill on that.”

(Reports by Diane Bartz and Jan Wolfe; additional report by Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey and Patricia Zengerle. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)

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