White House chief of staff says stimulus negotiations will start ‘in earnest’ on Monday

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that the administration has been engaged in discussions on the next stimulus bill for the past week, but negotiations will start “in earnest” Monday on Capitol Hill.

“As we’ve started to engage with our Senate and House colleagues up on Capitol Hill, those will start in earnest starting tomorrow, Monday,” Meadows said in an interview on Fox News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will meet with President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “to actually start to fine tune it,” Meadows added.

The White House and Senate Republicans are at odds over the amount of funding that should be given to the US Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention in the next round of stimulus spending, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN on Saturday.

The specifics of the bill are expected to be unveiled next week, so any discussions at this point are just preliminary — and the amount of funding to propose is a moving target even among GOP members, according to a GOP source. McConnell has kept details of the bill closely held so far.

Meadows outlined on Sunday the administration’s priorities for the next stimulus package, including making sure there are “protections for the American workers and those that employ individuals,” among other things.

“Whether it’s a payroll tax deduction, whether it’s making sure that unemployment benefits continue without a disincentive to return to work,” he said. The issue of continuing unemployment benefits has been a sticking point for Democrats in negotiations.

“It looks like” the bill will be in the trillion-dollar range, Meadows said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday told reporters that Democrats “are going to do everything we can to make sure that the CDC is fully funded in the stimulus package.”

“The administration is talking about — Republican McConnell is talking about cutting it — that would be cutting your nose to spite your face,” the New York Democrat said in response to a question from CNN during a press conference in New York. “We need the CDC to help us fight Covid. To not have the facts, to not have the science makes no sense at all.”

This story has been updated with comments from Sen. Chuck Schumer.

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