Congressional leaders signed a $ 900 billion coronavirus deal on Wednesday as millions of struggling Americans await aid.
The development aid agreement would not include corporate liability protection or aid to state and local authorities, CNBC confirmed. Disagreements on these two issues have prevented lawmakers from drafting a year-end bailout.
“We have made great strides in devising a targeted pandemic relief package that can pass either house by a bipartisan majority,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said in the Senate Wednesday after a night of talks between the two Top four conference leaders.
According to McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Minority, DN.Y., said “we are close to an agreement,” but noted, “the deal is not yet closed.” He added that Democrats “would have liked to have gone much further” to offer relief and will press for further aid after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
The move would include some direct payment to Americans as well as improved federal unemployment insurance, NBC News reported. In addition, Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines told CNBC that the deal would include approximately $ 300 billion in small business aid, including Paycheck Protection Program loans, money to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, and testing and relief for hospitals .
“I’m cautiously optimistic that this $ 900 billion package will be released today, and this will likely be passed before we go home this weekend,” Daines told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday morning.
Congress has rushed to find consensus on legislation to fund government and rescue a health system and economy collapsing under the pandemic. If lawmakers fail to act, the government will shut down on Saturday, 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas, and millions more could face eviction.
Congress finally moved closer to an emergency aid deal after negotiations Tuesday night between McConnell, Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Minority Chairperson Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Republicans and Democrats had failed for months to make headway towards a bill that could come through a divided Congress. But they seemed to be getting closer to a deal during their conversations.
After the discussions, McConnell and Schumer said they had hoped to reach an agreement “soon”.
The challenge facing Congress is to write comprehensive laws and approve them before Friday. McConnell told Republicans to prepare to work through the weekend, according to NBC.
Politico first reported that Congress leaders were close to a $ 900 billion deal. Parts of the bill appear to reflect a bipartisan plan released by ordinary lawmakers this week. However, this proposal did not include direct payments.
The measure, which is being developed by congressional officials, will include stimulus checks for individuals, which, according to NBC, could be around $ 600 per person.
When McConnell described to Republicans that the proposal would put more money in Americans’ bank accounts, he noted that Trump supported the provision, according to NBC. He also said that including the GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler cash infusions would help in their Georgia runoff on Jan. 5, which will determine the Senate majority.
Progressive Congressmen have urged party leaders to include direct payments in all legislation. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Have also threatened to delay the passing of a bill that doesn’t include a second deposit of $ 1,200 for most Americans.
At this point, the Senate would likely need unanimous assistance to pass a bill fast enough to meet the Friday midnight deadline. It remains to be seen how a potentially lesser review of incentives or the exclusion of state and local relief would affect legislative support this week.
As the deal developed on Wednesday, Sanders told MSNBC that $ 900 billion is “a lot less than the country needs at this moment of economic desperation.” However, he called it “good news” that the bill, as he now understands it, would send Americans from working-class families $ 600 per adult and $ 600 per child.
Hawley, meanwhile, told reporters that providing direct payments was “progress” but “not where I would like it to be.”
Lawmakers cannot send aid to millions of Americans soon enough. The economy has taken a blow in the face of an uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak that killed more than 300,000 people in the U.S.
With millions still not getting back jobs they lost at the start of the pandemic, long lines have formed at food banks across the country. Many Americans stay in their homes because of eviction moratoriums but don’t have the money to pay the rent they owe.
In addition, the Covid vaccine distribution, which began this week and gave Americans a glimmer of hope that the crisis could ease in the coming months, will depend on additional federal funding.
Of course, many in Washington believe a $ 900 billion plan won’t go far enough to raise families who are just passing by during the pandemic. Like Schumer, Biden has signaled that the Democrats will push for more relief in the new year.
At an event at which he presented the candidate for Minister of Transport Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday, Biden called the development proposal “encouraging”.
“But it’s a down payment, an important down payment for what needs to be done from late January to early February, but it’s very important to get this done and I congratulate the non-partisan group on getting it done.” he said.
– CNBC’s Ylan Mui and Christina Wilkie contributed to this report
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