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Virus relief bill remains up in air as negotiations resume

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks to reporters following a meeting at the Capitol with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a COVID-19 relief bill, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Slow, grinding negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill are set to resume Monday afternoon, but the path forward promises to be challenging and time is already growing short. Republicans are griping that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t drop her expansive wish list even as concerns are mounting that the White House needs to be more sure-footed in the negotiations.

Both the Trump administration negotiating team and top Capitol Hill Democrats remain far apart, and talks since Saturday — when the combatants announced modest progress — have yet to lend momentum. Both sides used television appearances over the weekend to showcase their differences.

Ahead of Monday’s talks, all sides predict a long slog ahead despite the lapse of a $600-per-week supplemental COVID-19 jobless benefit, the beginning of school season and the call of lawmakers’ cherished August recess. Several more days of talks are expected, if not more.

The White House is seeking opportunities to boost President Donald Trump, like another round of $1,200 stimulus payments and extending the supplemental jobless benefit and partial eviction ban. Pelosi, the top Democratic negotiator, appears intent on an agreement as well, but she’s made it clear she needs big money for state and local governments, unemployment benefits, and food aid.

Appearances by the principal negotiators on Sunday’s news shows featured continued political shots by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows at Pelosi for turning down a one-week extension of the $600 benefit in talks last week.

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