McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 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." 


"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 PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election Democrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsMeadows says Trump World looking to 'move forward in a real way' Trump takes two punches from GOP Watchdog urges Justice to probe Trump, Meadows for attempting to 'weaponize' DOJ 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." 


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 GrassleyBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators 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.