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McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Trump rules out starting a new party: 'Fake news' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (R-Ky.) is calling for the Trump administration and congressional Democrats to restart negotiations on a fifth coronavirus deal after talks collapsed late last week. 

McConnell, during an interview with Fox News, said it was "time for everybody to get back to the table," though the GOP leader gave no indication that he would reach out to Democratic leaders himself.  

"The stalemate needs to be ended. It doesn't make any difference who says let's get together again, but we ought to get together again," McConnell said, adding things were currently at an "impasse." 

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"There hasn't been a meeting of any consequences between the two parties since last Friday. That's too long, and it's time to sit down and get a deal done," he added.  

Negotiations between House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinBiden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward MORE collapsed on Friday after nearly two weeks of daily talks resulted in little progress. 

Though Meadows and Mnuchin briefed McConnell regularly about the closed-door negotiations, the GOP leader was not in the room for the days of talks. 

The congressional Democrats and the White House negotiators haven't spoken since Friday, and appear to be putting the onus on each other to restart talks. Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday that she had not heard from Mnuchin or Meadows. 

"Our differences are vast," she said. 

Asked if we should expect any updates this week, Pelosi added: "I hope so, we'll see." 

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Mnuchin and Meadows briefed Senate Republicans on Tuesday morning for nearly an hour. But they appeared to give GOP senators no reason to think there would be a quick resumption of the negotiations. 

Asked if he had gotten an update from the GOP negotiating team, Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa) said they were "pessimistic about getting back to negotiations.”

Instead the two parties have spent the past two days trading blame over the impasse.  

"I made it clear that the reasons talks have stalled was that the White House had basically declared, 'my way of the highway.' They were unwilling to meet us in the middle. They said that in the room," Schumer said from the Senate floor. 

He added that the stalemate was "not a both sides to blame situation." 

"Democrats are willing to compromise. Republicans are being intransigent and will not move from their position," Schumer said.  

As part of last week's talks, Schumer and Pelosi offered to take a trillion dollars off their $3.4 trillion top-line figure if the White House agreed to add $1 trillion to their package. That would have put them in the range of a final agreement between $2 trillion and $2.4 trillion.  

But Mnuchin called the figure a "non-starter." 

McConnell, on Tuesday, called for Democrats to drop their demand for nearly $1 trillion in new aid for state and local governments, which has emerged as a significant sticking point to restarting the talks. Democrats are asking for $915 billion while Republicans have offered $150 billion. 

"Take that off the table and let's get this assistance directly to the people who need it," McConnell said.