Democrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks

Democrats are attempting to drive a wedge between President Trump and Senate Republicans in their negotiations over the next coronavirus-relief package.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are employing a divide-and-conquer strategy, betting that Trump’s eagerness for a big COVID-19 bill that could bolster the faltering economy will override Senate GOP concerns about adding trillions more to the federal debt.

Democrats say the White House-Senate Republican unity started showing signs of strain last week after administration officials floated a short-term extension of the $600-a-week federal enhancement to state unemployment benefits that lapsed on Friday.

White House officials also signaled Trump would be willing to cut a deal with Democrats on legislation that did not include a must-have for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — legal protections for businesses, schools and health care providers to guard against coronavirus-related litigation for five years.

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