HOUSTON — Hopes that Congress would pass a new stimulus relief bill Friday were all but dashed Thursday night when talks broke down.
Leaders say Republicans and Democrats are still far apart on what to include in the latest bill to help Americans struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meantime, millions of families are in limbo with no money to pay bills or put food on the table. Many are facing eviction or foreclosure.
“We are in a crisis. We don’t have moments to wait,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said at a news conference in Houston Friday afternoon.
Lee said House and Senate leaders are meeting with a team from the White House this afternoon to try and reach a compromise.
"We're fighting. There is negotiation as we speak," Lee said.
She offered one glimmer of hope on the talks: she said the two sides are close to an agreement to bring back the $600 unemployment supplement that went away in July.
The Houston Democrat said negotiators will meet through the weekend, if necessary.
"Something has to move the ball to get them to understand that we're not playing."
Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Lee to plead with federal and state leaders to do their jobs.
"They need to step up and help because cities cannot do this alone," Turner said.
Lee used statistics from her own 18th Congressional District to highlight the need:
- Average income: $47,000
- Unemployment rate:10%
- Poverty rate: 18%
- No health insurance: 175,000