Joe Biden urged Congress to immediately pass a $3.4 trillion Democratic stimulus plan. But both parties have stopped negotiating.

  • Biden is pressing Congress to approve a $3.4 trillion stimulus plan to keep individuals and businesses afloat amid a spike in virus cases nationwide.
  • "If we can decide not to cooperate, we could decide to cooperate," Biden said.
  • There are no ongoing negotiations on a new stimulus plan between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, and the gridlock doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.
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President-elect Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a $3.4 trillion stimulus plan that House Democrats approved earlier this year. He warned of a "dark winter" as recorded virus infections reach new highs, prompting some states and cities to enact new restrictions to thwart the pathogen's spread.

"That requires sparing no effort to fight COVID, so we can open our businesses safely, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us," he said. "It's going to be difficult but it can be done."

Biden said it was imperative for lawmakers to pass a coronavirus relief package during the lame-duck session before they adjourn next month. "Refusal of Democrats, Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a conscious decision.. If we can decide not to cooperate, we could decide to cooperate," he said.

Yet there are no discussions between Republicans and Democrats on an economic relief plan, Politico reported. The White House is sitting out while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spearheads the Republican effort to pass a much smaller package than Democrats desire.

The Democratic stimulus proposal includes another wave of $1,200 direct payments for taxpayers. $600 federal unemployment benefits, new small business loans, assistance for state and local governments and additional virus testing and tracing funds.

There are no indication that McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are negotiating at the moment. Both Pelosi and McConnell's offices did not immediately return a request for comment.

Biden's speech didn't include any possible compromises that could be hashed out with Republicans. Meanwhile, many in the GOP doubled down their opposition to a costly new spending package. They already dismissed the same Democratic proposal after its passage in May.

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Instead, Republicans back a targeted $500 billion relief plan that prioritizes health funding, small business aid, and unemployment insurance. It left out stimulus checks and state aid.

"We're not going to pass a gigantic measure right now — and the question: will we pass it later? Doubtful," Senate Appropriations chair Richard Shelby told reporters on Monday. "Start with the skinny bill.. keep the economy going, not a wish list of fixes for political, social problems."

Trump repeatedly urged Congress to pass a stimulus bill before the election, but has been mostly quiet on the matter other than a single tweet on Saturday morning. 

"Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill," he wrote on Twitter. "Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!"

The stock market rallied Monday on an announcement from drugmaker Moderna it had developed a coronavirus vaccine with a 94.5% effectiveness rate. But distributing the vaccine across the US would likely take several more months.

Many economists and Federal Reserve officials are pressing Congress to pass a new relief bill. The recovery is showing  signs of slowing down and the economy remains in a very vulnerable state. There are indications Americans are pulling back on credit card spending and retail sales grew less than expected last month.

Critical benefits for millions of unemployed people are also expiring by the end of December if Congress doesn't step in.

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