(Corrects figure in 6th paragraph to $175 billion instead of $175 million)
By David Morgan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers and White House officials headed into a day of negotiations on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, aimed at hammering out an agreement on new coronavirus aid legislation as infections and deaths surged to record levels across the country.
The Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House of Representatives have less than two weeks to agree on a legislative package before assistance runs out for tens of millions of Americans made jobless by the coronavirus pandemic.
But the two sides remained far apart over how much money to spend and which priorities to spend it on, as the United States led the world with more than 3.8 million coronavirus cases and over 140,900 deaths.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would unveil a new coronavirus bill soon.
He said it would include $105 billion for schools; assistance for small businesses; direct payments to individuals and families; help for businesses to meet the cost of protecting employees and customers; money for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments; and liability protection for businesses, healthcare facilities, churches, charities and government agencies.
Democrats are proposing $175 billion to help elementary and secondary schools cope with the pandemic and have said they are determined to fight for provisions in a $3 trillion bill that passed the House in May and includes aid to state and local governments, extended unemployment insurance and protections for workers.
“An outcome will require bipartisan discussions. I do not believe there will be anything in our bill that our Democratic colleagues should not happily support,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to begin negotiating with House and Senate Democrats now. “I urge all of my Republican colleagues to abandon their one-party, one-chamber approach before it’s too late and immediately begin bipartisan, bicameral negotiations,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is due to host a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss coronavirus relief with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Schumer. Mnuchin and Meadows will meet separately with Senate Republicans.
“Negotiations are ongoing right now and it’s my understanding, as they escalate later on this afternoon, that everything that should be on the table will be on the table,” House Democratic Conference Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told reporters.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said there was little enthusiasm for including a payroll tax cut sought by President Donald Trump. (Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone, Andrew Heavens and Jonathan Oatis)