A bipartisan group of senators is trying to jump-start stalled coronavirus stimulus talks during the lame duck, with congressional leaders still at odds over providing more relief as cases and deaths spike ahead of the coming winter.
Here is a full list: There are several groups of discussions. Among the senators involved in them are Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), the sources said. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin has also been involved in some discussion.
The effort is an uphill battle given the entrenched positions of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP conference and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. So whatever this collection of senators can achieve is likely to be modest, if they can accomplish anything at all
The group is informal and sprawls throughout both caucuses in the Senate, according to sources familiar with the talks. The talks mostly involve telephone conversations since physical meetings in the Senate are at a minimum amid the coronavirus’ grip on the Capitol. Much of the discussion took place over the Thanksgiving recess last week.
On Monday, both McConnell and Schumer said they want additional Covid relief. “There’s no reason, none, why we should not deliver another major pandemic relief package,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We need a true bipartisan bill, not ‘this is our bill, take it or leave it’ that can bring us together,” Schumer said.