McConnell, Schumer hope to make a deal quickly

The four top congressmen appeared to be making progress in funding the government and dispatching another round of coronavirus aid during Tuesday sessions as millions of struggling Americans await aid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Identified conversations with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., As Congress is running out of time to resolve both issues. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who spoke separately to Pelosi on the phone for more than an hour on Tuesday, took part in the talks among congressional leaders.

McConnell left the Capitol after 10 p.m. ET and was more optimistic than he had been in months about the prospect of lawmakers entering into a bipartisan aid treaty.

“We are making significant progress and I am optimistic that we can reach an agreement soon,” he told reporters, according to NBC News. He did not outline any details of a possible aid agreement.

When Schumer left, he also said the leaders “are making progress and hopefully we can come to an agreement soon”. Congress must pass a spending bill by Friday to prevent government shutdown.

The discussions are the four leaders’ most significant efforts to date to reach a bipartisan agreement on a spending and pandemic rescue package that could come through a split Congress. Without action by Congress, government funds will expire on Saturday and 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas.

The group met for about an hour late Tuesday afternoon and met around 7:30 p.m. ET and negotiated for hours.

McConnell told reporters earlier on Tuesday that Congress would not leave for vacation until it passed an emergency aid bill. He said lawmakers will “stay here until we get a Covid package, no matter how long it takes.”

Congress has failed to send new aid for months as the pandemic expands the capacity of the health system and millions of Americans search for a meal and pay their rent. The impending expiry of financial lifelines, a weakening economy, and the need for money to ensure Covid-19 vaccines get to health care workers and older Americans have forced lawmakers to seek a compromise once and for all.

A simple, bipartisan group of senators and officials helped bring Congress leaders closer to drawing up an aid package. Lawmakers on Monday released a plan that would put more than $ 700 billion in small business loans, unemployment insurance, vaccine distribution, education and rental support.

The negotiators in the group urged their party leaders to pass the law immediately, or at least use it as a template for a final agreement.

It would extend the pandemic unemployment benefits programs that benefit 12 million people and add a weekly unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week for 16 weeks. It would also maintain a federal eviction moratorium for an additional month through January 31, and extend the federal student loan forbearance through April 1.

It would not include direct payments, which many lawmakers have identified as crucial in providing adequate assistance to families in difficulty. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Have insisted that Congress put a second stimulus check of $ 1,200 on an auxiliary bill.

The entire bipartisan group has not signed a separate part of the proposal dealing with corporate liability protection and state and local relief – two issues that have repeatedly blocked progress towards an agreement. McConnell has asked Congress to repeal both provisions for the time being.

Still, Pelosi and Schumer have called for money for state and local governments that are essential to maintaining jobs in the public sector. When asked on Tuesday afternoon whether he would still press for help during the meeting among congressional leaders, Schumer told reporters, “I will in no way enter into negotiations that will occur.”

The leaders of Congress hope to tie the auxiliary provisions to a government spending bill. Earlier, McConnell said “it is still my hope” that Congress will reach an omnibus funding agreement to keep the government going through September 30th.

If they cannot conclude a full spending contract for the financial year, the legislature would have to resort to a short-term measure.

Democrats have given up any coronavirus bailout bill they would pass this week as a down payment until President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

The US is currently routinely recording more than 200,000 coronavirus cases every day. Covid kills thousands of Americans every week and has now killed more than 300,000 people nationwide.

The country got a glimmer of hope on Monday as the coronavirus vaccinations began. But as the virus spreads nationwide, Americans will continue to die, and the economy will struggle to recover on its own in the months when most people can get a shot.

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