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McConnell uncertain over stimulus deal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday expressed doubt over whether the White House and Democratic leaders will strike a deal to pass another major coronavirus relief package before the election.

“I don’t know if there will be another package in the next few weeks or not,” McConnell told reporters at a hospital event in Kentucky.

The GOP leader said the cooperative atmosphere in which the Senate unanimously passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March has “descended” into a partisan impasse.

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“We’re giving it our best,” he said, but noted: “It’s harder to do now because we’re so much closer to the election.

“The cooperative spirit we had in March and April has dissipated as we’ve moved closer and closer to the election,” he said.

A 36-minute call between Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Hillicon Valley: Colonial pipeline is back online, but concerns remain | Uber, Lyft struggle with driver supply | Apple cuts controversial hire Ocasio-Cortez on Taylor Greene: 'These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time' MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE Tuesday failed to make any progress.

“Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing,” Pelosi said in a statement after the call.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) say the package must provide at least $2.2 trillion in federal aid or they will not agree to it.

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“Over a month ago, we said that we would be willing to cut a trillion dollars from the Heroes Act if the White House would add one trillion to the Senate bill. Last week, we said we would be willing to go down to $2.2 trillion,” Pelosi said.

McConnell is discussing with Senate Republican colleagues the possibility of putting a slimmed down COVID-19 relief package estimated to cost between $500 billion and $700 billion on the Senate floor for a vote later this month.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBiden says he and GOP both 'sincere about' seeking infrastructure compromise Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden expresses optimism on bipartisanship; Cheney ousted MORE (Wyo.) said Tuesday the “goal” is to have a vote on the bill after senators return to Washington next week.

McConnell told colleagues during a conference call Tuesday that vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection this year want to get at least 51 Republican votes for a relief package.

Democrats have bashed McConnell for months for pausing negotiations on the next round of coronavirus relief legislation after the Senate passed the CARES Act and a $484 billion interim relief package that provided more money for the popular Paycheck Protection Program.

Democrats are expected to block the revised Senate GOP bill because it does not include the $915 billion Pelosi and Schumer have requested for cash-strapped state and local governments.

It also includes language to protect businesses, colleges, schools, nonprofit organizations and hospitals from coronavirus-related lawsuits except in cases of willful misconduct or grossly negligent behavior.