Politico – A bipartisan group of senators is trying to jump-start stalled coronavirus stimulus talks during the lame duck, with congressional leaders still at odds over providing more relief as cases and deaths spike ahead of the coming winter.

The effort is an uphill battle given the entrenched positions of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP conference and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. So whatever this collection of senators can achieve is likely to be modest, if they can accomplish anything at all.

The group is informal and sprawls throughout both caucuses in the Senate, according to sources familiar with the talks. The talks mostly involve telephone conversations since physical meetings in the Senate are at a minimum amid the coronavirus’ grip on the Capitol. Much of the discussion took place over the Thanksgiving recess last week.

On Monday, both McConnell and Schumer said they want additional Covid relief.

“There’s no reason, none, why we should not deliver another major pandemic relief package,” the Kentucky Republican said.

“We need a true bipartisan bill, not ‘this is our bill, take it or leave it’ that can bring us together,” Schumer said.

A number of key provisions, like expanded unemployment insurance and eviction moratoriums from the spring’s massive CARES Act are expiring at the end of the year, heightening the urgency. Any potential coronavirus relief package could be attached to a spending bill due by Dec. 11 to ensure its passage.

Congressional leaders prefer a large spending package to avoid a shutdown instead of a stopgap continuing resolution into the new presidency of Joe Biden that begins next January.

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