Polarized Senate stymied over coronavirus stimulus package

Published on Monday, 23 March 2020 20:15
Written by The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Tensions flared Monday as Washington strained to respond to the worsening coronavirus outbreak, with Congress arguing over a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package and an impatient President Donald Trump musing openly about letting the 15-day shutdown expire.

As the U.S. braces for an onslaught of sick Americans, and millions are forced indoors to avert a spike that risks overwhelming hospitals, the most ambitious federal intervention in modern times is testing whether Washington can swiftly halt the pandemic on the home-front.

“It’s time to get with the program, time to pass historic relief,” said an angry Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he opened the chamber after a nonstop weekend session that failed to produce a deal. “This is a national emergency.”

The White House team led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin returned to Capitol Hill for a fourth straight day of talks as negotiators narrowed on a bipartisan accord.

“We’re making a lot of progress,” Mnuchin said midday as he shuttled through the halls.

But McConnell fumed, warning Democrats - pointedly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - to quit stalling on “political games,” as he described Democratic efforts to steer more of the aid toward public health and workers.

From the White House, Trump sounded a note of frustration about the unprecedented modern-day effort to halt the virus’s march by essentially shutting down public activities in ways that now threaten the U.S. economy.

Posted in The Bristol Press, on Monday, 23 March 2020 20:15. Updated: Monday, 23 March 2020 20:18.