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Where Congress stands on a potential new pandemic relief bill

COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S., but children in some southern states returned to school Monday -- causing parents to worry about potential virus transmission. Meanwhile, negotiations over a new economic relief bill continued between the White House and Congress, with both sides reporting progress. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the numbers and when to expect a deal.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The COVID-19 death toll across the United States has pushed past 155,000 tonight. That comes as health experts say the resurgence is improving in parts of the Sunbelt, but still spreading elsewhere.

    And children in parts of Georgia and several other Southern states began returning to school today, leaving many nervous parents behind.

  • Rachel Adamus:

    We only go to parks if no one else is there. We don't take them to the grocery store. And now they're going to be in the classroom with however many kids for an entire day, with a teacher, and masks are allowed, but they're not mandatory. So, we really have to rely on other people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, negotiations continued between the White House and Congress over a new economic relief bill. Both sides reported progress. But President Trump warned that he might try to act on his own to restore federal jobless benefits and protections against evictions.

  • President Donald Trump:

    A lot of people are going to be evicted. But I'm going to stop it, because I will do it myself if I have to. I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders. And we're looking at that very seriously right now.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    For the latest on negotiations around the next coronavirus relief bill, I'm joined now by our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.

    So, hello, Lisa.

    I know things started to pick up over the weekend. What are you learning today about what is happening?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As you said, Judy, the word was progress.

    Negotiators from Democratic leaders and White House negotiators met for two hours today at the Capitol, walked out saying they thought they had made progress.

    What they did today, Judy, amazingly, for the first time, is, they put their numbers on paper, looked at the different proposals and what they would mean. Now, there isn't a deal yet, but Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told reporters that he thinks the White House is now open to a larger deal.

    And, as for the president do an action his own, Judy, I can report neither Republicans nor Democrats in Congress are taking that seriously at this point.

    So, could there be a deal this week? There could be, but we have to watch.

  • Judy Woodruff:


    So, remind us, what are the main points still of differences between the Republicans and the Democrats?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    OK, buckle up. I'm smiling, because we're going to get into a lot of facts and numbers right now.

    Here we go. Let's start with some of these bigger divides. Unemployment, that $600 added benefit, Democrats would like to keep that through December. Republicans, for now, are offering just a short-term extension.

    But, Judy, they're indicating today that maybe they will move a little bit. Direct payments, the two sides actually agree on sending out more $1,200 checks.

    School. Democrats in their HEROES Act in May offered $90 billion is what they wanted to fund for schools, Republicans $105 billion. Republicans want more funding for schools.

    More. Let's get into more data on this. Also, there's the — if you look at state and local funding, this is a major difference, Democrats nearly $1 trillion for state and local, Republicans, nothing. They would give state more flexibility for the money that they have already got.

    Testing and tracing, Democrats, again, with more money than Republicans. When you look at food aid and those SNAP, the food stamps, again, Democrats would fund a lot more, Republicans, none.

    And election help, Judy, Democrats want $3.6 billion. Judy, that's mostly to help with stamps and ballots for mail-in voting, Republicans right now, no money for that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And just finally, quickly, Lisa, go back to what you were saying about the big gap on aid for state and local governments. What's behind that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:


    This is a philosophical difference, as much as anything, that Republicans really believe that the federal government shouldn't be propping up states. However, Democrats argue that many states have to balance their budgets. They're seeing revenue increases that are un — revenue decreases, of course, that are unprecedented.

    The difference, of course, is in the amount of money. Republicans say, we will fund schools, we will help local governments that way. Democrats say, much more needs to be done.

    Judy, these are just the biggest issues. I want to look really quickly at this list of everything else that needs to be negotiated as well. Look at this, child care, the Postal Service, evictions, census, small businesses, underserved communities. This isn't even a complete list.

    So, this should give everyone an idea of the challenge ahead for lawmakers, who really have only begun negotiating in earnest in the last 24 hours. But they are hoping to reach a deal this week.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And interesting. It's all coming to a head now, after these unemployment benefits, additional unemployment benefits, expired.

    Lisa Desjardins, I know you will keep an eye on it. Thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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