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WASHINGTON – One day after the U.S. COVID-19 death toll soared past a quarter of a million, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has agreed to resume relief talks with Democrats.

“Last night, they’ve agreed to sit down, and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good COVID relief bill,” Schumer said during a Thursday news conference in New York, CNBC reported.

“So there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough in that McConnell’s folks are finally sitting down and talking to us,” the minority leader added.

Meanwhile, the timing of the “breakthrough” rang hollow for some, considering McConnell sent senators home Wednesday for the Thanksgiving break one day early, NBC News reported.

An estimated 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits next month when two government-funded programs expire a day after Christmas, Reuters reported.

To date, Democrats have proposed a $2.4 trillion relief package, which should include a $1,200 check for millions of Americans, while Republicans countered with a more targeted $500 billion proposal that was blocked immediately as inadequate.

A senior Democratic aide told CNBC that there was a midafternoon meeting on Thursday of aides representing McConnell, Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The aide told the network that the group discussed coronavirus relief and efforts to pass a $1.4 trillion bill to keep government agencies operating beyond Dec. 11 when current funding expires.

Meanwhile. President-elect Joe Biden is slated to meet Friday with Schumer and Pelosi in Wilmington, Delaware, Reuters reported.

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