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Pelosi wants House to stay in session until COVID deal reached

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Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a call with Democratic members on Tuesday that she wants the House to stay in session until a deal is reached on a coronavirus relief bill, and reiterated her intentions in an interview with CNBC.

"I just got off the call with my colleagues. We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people," Pelosi told CNBC.

The House reconvened this week, nearly two months after talks broke down between congressional Democrats and White House officials over a new relief bill. The House passed its own $3 trillion bill in May, but Senate Republicans have refused to consider this proposal. Senate Democrats also blocked Republican efforts to pass a slimmed-down relief bill in the Senate last week.

Congressional Democrats and White House officials were unable to agree on a price tag for the next relief bill after weeks of negotiations in July. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they were willing to lower their proposal to $2 trillion, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows argued that Democrats wanted to include too many provisions that they felt were unrelated to the pandemic.

Both chambers of Congress recessed in August, after a popular enhanced unemployment benefit providing an extra $600 per week expired at the end of July. The benefit was established as part of the CARES Act, which passed in March. President Trump signed executive orders in August aimed at lessening the economic impact of the pandemic by providing a smaller unemployment benefit on top of weekly unemployment insurance if states are able to implement it.

Meanwhile, the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus unveiled its own coronavirus relief plan on Tuesday. The proposal would cost around $2 trillion, and include funding for relatively non-controversial items like direct assistance to families, unemployment assistance and aid to small businesses. It also would include appropriate funding for schools, assistance to state and local governments and election assistance. It is unclear whether this proposal will receive support in the Senate.

Congress must also agree on a package to fund the government before funding expires at the end of September. 

Kimberly Brown contributed reporting.

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