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Bipartisan U.S. lawmaker group to unveil $1.5 trillion COVID-19 aid bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said Democrats were open to delaying an October recess to get a deal with Republicans on a new coronavirus aid bill, as a group of moderates unveiled a $1.5 trillion bipartisan plan they hoped would break a deadlock.

With the U.S. presidential and congressional elections less than two months away, Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on a fifth coronavirus bill, having approved more than $3 trillion worth of measures earlier this year.

“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement,” Pelosi,

a Democrat, said in a CNBC interview, adding that there were disagreements with Republicans on how to “crush the virus” that has now killed more than 194,000 people in the United States.

The House was scheduled to recess no later than Oct. 2 so members can go home to campaign for re-election on Nov. 3. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said lawmakers will be on standby, with 24 hours notice of any vote on a coronavirus aid bill if a deal is reached.

Congress is expected to focus in coming weeks on passing legislation funding the government beyond Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Hoyer said that a stopgap money bill to avert government shutdowns would be put to a vote in that chamber next week.

Hoyer, a Democrat, said the Problem Solvers Caucus call for $1.5 trillion in new aid was helpful, but more was needed to confront a pandemic that has cost millions of U.S. jobs and shown few signs of abating.

Meanwhile, the Democratic heads of eight House committees said in a statement that the “proposal falls short of what is needed to save lives and boost the economy.”

The proposal drew praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Executive Vice President Neil Bradley called it “a reasonable middle ground,” but said expanded liability protections for businesses, something Democrats oppose, still had to be addressed.


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