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COVID relief talks ongoing

Pelosi and Mnuchin: ‘extensive’ discussion on coronavirus relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held an “extensive conversation” Wednesday on a huge COVID-19 rescue package, meeting face to face for the first time in more than a month in a last-ditch effort to seal a tentative accord on an additional round of coronavirus relief.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying the two would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides, McConnell said.

“I’ve seen substantial movement, yes, and certainly the rhetoric has changed,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said.

After initially saying the Democratic-controlled chamber would vote Wednesday night on a $2.2 trillion relief bill — a debate that would have been partisan and possibly unproductive — Pelosi made an about-face and postponed the vote until Thursday in hopes of giving the talks with Mnuchin greater breathing room.

At issue is a long-delayed package that would extend another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments, restore bonus pandemic jobless benefits, speed aid to schools and extend assistance to airlines, restaurants and other struggling businesses.

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