Blue Dogs Urge Leaders to Restart Coronavirus Relief Talks

August 21, 2020 by Dan McCue
The empty rotunda of the Capitol, Aug. 5, 2020. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats has begun circulating a letter they plan to send to leaders in the House and Senate, urging them to return to bargaining on a new coronavirus relief bill.

Earlier this month, the congressional leaders declared themselves at an impasse over what the next round of coronavirus aid should look like.

It is now unclear when Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will sit down with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to resume discussions.

At present both parties are focusing on their 2020 nominating conventions. The Democrats’ gathering concluded Thursday night. The Republicans will hold their convention next week.

If lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next month without an agreement, they will have to consider coronavirus relief while trying to avoid a government shutdown by Sept. 30.

It is against this backdrop that the coalition of moderate Democrats is pushing for a serious resumption of talks and reportedly suggesting many areas of potential compromises between the parties.

Officials who have seen the letter say these areas include extending an increase on unemployment benefits, increased aid to state and local governments, small business loans and tax incentives for retaining workers during the pandemic, and another round of direct payments to households.

The House is in the process of returning to Washington ahead of a vote Saturday that would provide funds for the U.S. Postal Service to help it deal with an expected surge in mail-in voting in the November election.

The letter, which the coalition will reportedly send to the leaders on Friday, said moderate Democrats believe there’s “considerable common ground” between the $1 trillion package Senate Republicans have advanced, and the $3.4 trillion measure the House passed in May.

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