Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal

Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal
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President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE and congressional Democratic leadership on Thursday discussed the need for a coronavirus deal during the end-of-the-year lame duck session.

Biden, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNews media's sausage-making obsession helps no one Klobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.) spoke on Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic, with cases climbing across the country, and the economic turmoil, according to a joint readout from Biden's transition team and the congressional Democrats.

"They discussed the urgent need for the Congress to come together in the lame duck session on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that provides resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, relief for working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments trying to keep frontline workers on the payroll, expanded unemployment insurance, and affordable health care for millions of families," according to the readout.

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The call comes as deep divisions are already casting doubt on Congress's ability to get a coronavirus deal before the end of the year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.), who is expected to take the reins of any talks from the Trump administration, has said he wants a smaller bill similar to the roughly $500 billion previously offered by Republicans in October.

Democrats, meanwhile, on Thursday touted the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a $3.4 trillion bill passed by the House in May, as their "starting point" for any talks.

Beyond a coronavirus deal, Biden, Pelosi and Schumer also turned their attention toward 2021, talking about how to get bipartisan deals on infrastructure, clean energy and creating "millions of good-paying union jobs," according to the readout.

The talk comes as Biden has not yet spoken with congressional Republican leadership, who have not yet acknowledged that he won the presidential race as they try not to get ahead of President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE.

Schumer and Pelosi also talked to Biden on Saturday after the race was called for him.

Biden, in Thursday’s call, vowed to be in close touch with Schumer and Pelosi and reiterated his “commitment to uniting the country after a hard-fought campaign."