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Schumer will increase strain on Covid enterprise cycle offers and warns of a double-dip recession as employment progress slows

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) answers questions during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 1, 2020.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Top Congressional Democrats increased pressure on Friday to close a coronavirus stimulus deal after new data showed sluggish employment growth amid a surge in infections.

The number of non-agricultural employees rose by 245,000 in November, well below the expectations of 440,000. The sign of a waning economic recovery is the renewed drive by Congress to pass pandemic relief law before the end of the year.

Democratic leaders, who have been calling for a comprehensive package to stimulate the US economy and health care system for months, cited the report as further justification for Congress action.

"This latest job report shows the need for strong, urgent emergency relief is more important than ever," said Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Senate Minority, D-N.Y., In a statement. "Senate Republicans increasingly understand this urgency, and Leader McConnell should hear their pleas as well as those of the millions of struggling American families."

"This job report warns that a two-dip recession is looming and should be a wake-up call for anyone standing in the way of genuine bipartisan relief," he continued.

Optimism about an agreement has grown in recent days as talks began on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on Thursday about both an aid package and a government funding bill that Congress must pass by December 11th. It was their first conversation in at least a month.

After the interview, McConnell told reporters that those responsible were "both interested in getting a result, both on the omnibus and in a coronavirus package".

Democrats backed a $ 908 billion proposal put forward by bipartisan Senate and House members as the basis for discussions with McConnell. The Senate Chairman wants to pass a tighter $ 500 billion plan.

The sides have yet to resolve disagreements on issues such as unemployment insurance, support to state and local governments, education funding, and corporate liability coverage.

It's unclear how the job report will affect the content of an auxiliary bill – or how quickly Congress can pass it. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the chamber's third largest GOP member, cited Friday's job report as evidence of the strength of his party's economic policies.

In a statement, he called for "targeted assistance to families in Wyoming and across the country" focused on small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program and Covid-19 vaccine distribution fund.

"We have no time to waste," said Barrasso.

About 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits after Christmas if Congress does not extend the provisions passed earlier this year. More than 20 million people are getting unemployment insurance as the economy struggles during the outbreak.

Eviction protection and a moratorium on paying federal student loans will expire at the end of the year.

The White House has generally downplayed the extent of economic problems in recent months. Still, the director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, called for a targeted relief plan on Friday.

Speaking to CNBC, he said that discussions on Capitol Hill seem to be making progress.

"The conversation is good, we may make progress," he said.

But he added, "I can't make any promises this morning."

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