Coronavirus relief at a standstill

Negotiations between congressional leaders on a fifth coronavirus relief bill are at a standstill, further dimming the prospects for an end-of-year deal even as cases climb across the country.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Senate floor Wednesday traded blame for the lack of progress.

“I heard the Republican leader this morning give the same long, tired speech that pretends as if Democrats haven’t been trying to negotiate with our colleagues, that we haven’t been trying over and over again to get our Republican colleagues to talk with us,” Schumer said.

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent McConnell a letter this week urging him to restart negotiations on a fifth coronavirus package. McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference that he was not having any behind-the-scenes talks with Democratic leadership about coronavirus relief, though he and Pelosi spoke last week on funding the government.

Why it matters: The Senate is about to take off for Thanksgiving break without reaching a COVID deal.