Republicans are willing to restart negotiations on a coronavirus relief package, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday. "They've agreed to sit down, and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good COVID relief bill," the Senate's Democratic leader said. No aid has been approved for Americans struggling financially during the pandemic for months, and the two sides have to deal with avoiding a government shutdown due Dec. 11. Schumer portrayed the movement on relief talks as "a little bit of a breakthrough," with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deciding to let his staff members meet with the other side, CNBC reports.
But congressional aides in both parties were less sure of its significance, and McConnell's office had no comment. The Senate broke Wednesday and won't return after the Thanksgiving holiday until Nov. 30. Republican staffers expressed more hope for the omnibus spending bill, which senators would have to address quickly to avoid a government shutdown, per Politico. Negotiations on an economic stimulus package have gone nowhere, and the parties aren't close on the total cost of the aid. There's a deadline ahead for relief negotiators, too: Two federal aid programs for the unemployed will expire Dec. 26 unless something happens. (McConnell had advised the White House against backing a relief bill before the election.)