U.S. lawmakers to unveil $1.5 trillion COVID-19 aid bill

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WASHINGTON – A group of 50 Democratic and Republican members of Congress are due to unveil a $1.5 trillion bipartisan coronavirus relief legislation on Tuesday, in an election year effort to break a month-long impasse in COVID-19 talks between the White House and top Democrats.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes members of both parties in the House of Representatives, was set to outline the legislative package at an 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) press conference at the U.S. Capitol.

The group, which says it has been working to find common ground on coronavirus relief for the past six weeks, was set to offer the measure just before House lawmakers returned to Washington from a summer recess on Monday.

“This is just a framework to hopefully get the negotiators back to the table,” U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer, the group’s Democratic co-chairman, told CNBC in an interview.

The proposal includes another round of direct checks to Americans, $500 billion for state and local governments and jobless benefits, with spending lasting beyond next January’s presidential inauguration, according to a source familiar with the plan.

With less than two months to go before the November election, there is growing anxiety among lawmakers about the inability of Congress and President Donald Trump’s White House to agree on a package to deliver relief to millions of Americans and an economy reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Talks between the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer broke down in early August and the two sides remain nearly $900 billion apart. Democrats are demanding $2.2 trillion in spending, while the White House has signaled a willingness to accept $1.3 trillion.

House and Senate Republican leaders have not participated in the discussions.

The Republican-controlled Senate failed to pass a $300 billion coronavirus bill over the objections of Democrats who called it inadequate. It was a slimmed-down version of an earlier $1 trillion measure that also failed.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Susan Heavey and Bernadette Baum)

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SourceReuters

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