Pelosi and Schumer ditched the secret COVID-19 stimulus plan they sent directly to Mitch McConnell when they publicly backed the $908 billion bipartisan package instead

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer abandoned a secretive COVID-19 stimulus proposal when they publicly backed a $US908 billion bipartisan bill on Wednesday.

They had quietly taken a proposal directly to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night, The Washington Post reported.

Its details were unclear. Schumer called it a “private proposal” that the two leading congressional Democrats made in the hope of edging closer to an agreement, The Post reported.

But Pelosi and Schumer dropped the idea when they released a joint statement backing a $US908 billion plan released on Tuesday by a bipartisan group of senators.

“While we made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used” in negotiations, they said.

The bipartisan bill is far short of the $US2.2 trillion package Democrats sought but includes help for small businesses, unemployment support, and funding for coronavirus vaccine distribution.

But McConnell has resisted that plan as well. He said Wednesday that the only package that would get President Donald Trump’s approval was his own.

“I put forward yesterday another proposal reflecting what the President is ready to sign into law,” McConnell said.

Details of a much leaner plan from McConnell circulated on Tuesday, The Post reported. It included education funding, assistance for small businesses, and pandemic-related liability protections for businesses.

It didn’t include federal unemployment benefits, instead proposing a one-month program for state benefits and gig workers. It also didn’t include more direct stimulus checks for Americans.

Congress has little time to agree on how to move forward, as its session lasts only a few weeks. Lawmakers also have to deal with a government funding bill before a shutdown on December 11.

Both Democrats and Republicans have accused the other side of refusing to compromise. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon on Tuesday called McConnell’s bill an “insult.”

McConnell said on Wednesday that Democrats had until recently stonewalled all plans except their own.