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Democratic leaders slam Trump administration for refusing to budge in COVID-19 relief talks

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-08-13 10:26
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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak to reporters after their coronavirus relief negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the US Capitol in Washington, US August 7, 2020. [Photo/Agencies] 

WASHINGTON - US Democratic leaders on Wednesday lashed out at the Trump administration for refusing to budge on their position on the size and scope of the next COVID-19 relief package, as the two sides remain deadlocked over the issue.

"Democrats have compromised. Repeatedly, we have made clear to the Administration that we are willing to come down $1 trillion if they will come up $1 trillion," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

"However, it is clear that the Administration still does not grasp the magnitude of the problems that American families are facing," Pelosi and Schumer said.

The Democratic leaders' statement came after a conversation with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier in the day.

"An overture was made by Secretary Mnuchin to meet and he made clear that his televised comments from earlier today still stand: the White House is not budging from their position concerning the size and scope of a legislative package," Pelosi and Schumer said.

Mnuchin, however, rebutted the criticism shortly after. In a statement, the US treasury secretary said the Democratic leaders' statement is not an accurate reflection of the phone conversation he had with Pelosi earlier in the day.

"She (Pelosi) made clear that she was unwilling to meet to continue negotiations unless we agreed in advance to her proposal, costing at least 2 trillion dollars," Mnuchin said. "The Democrats have no interest in negotiating."

Negotiations between Democratic leaders and White House officials collapsed on Friday as both sides blamed each other for making little progress.

House Democrats unveiled a 3-trillion-US-dollar relief proposal in May, but didn't gain support from the Republicans. Senate Republicans released their 1-trillion-dollar proposal in late July, just a few days before the extra 600-dollar weekly unemployment benefits expired.

US President Donald Trump on Saturday signed a series of executive orders to extend certain COVID-19 economic relief, but they are unlikely to provide a meaningful boost to the overall economy.

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