But in the Senate, Republicans blocked an effort to approve another package of state and local funding, as Democrats renewed calls to begin negotiating another pandemic relief package amid a continuing surge in cases. A number of existing relief measures, including a $600 expanded unemployment benefit, will expire soon without congressional action.
Democrats tried to use a procedural maneuver that would allow the legislation to pass the Senate without the full chamber present, but Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, objected, citing concerns that the national debt and deficit would reach “unsustainable levels.”
The dispute came as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, slammed Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, for his unwillingness to begin another round of talks. They wrote in a letter to Mr. McConnell that “now is the time for action, not continued delays and political posturing.”
Though there is widespread acknowledgment on Capitol Hill that another relief package is needed, Mr. McConnell and top Senate Republicans have pushed to delay any negotiations or legislation until after the chamber returns from a two-week July 4 recess.
Republicans, however, have repeatedly stressed that Congress should wait before doling out another round of taxpayer aid so they could see the impact of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package, which became law in March.
Several economists have pleaded with Congress to continue spending and maintain the unemployment extension, but Republicans remain divided over how to balance the need for economic relief with calls to rein in spending.
“While the Democratic House slapped together an absurd multi-trillion-dollar wish list that even the mainstream media panned immediately, the Senate has continued with our substantive, serious, facts-first approach,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “That is the formula we will replicate in any future recovery legislation down the road.”