The coronavirus-relief deal that congressional leaders are attempting to wrap up includes stimulus payments to individuals and supplemental unemployment insurance, but excludes liability protections and direct aid for state and local governments, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
Leaders are rushing to finalize the package in time to attach it to crucial government spending legislation and pass by the end of the week. The virus aid is expected to be less than $900 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy were meeting Wednesday morning after talking for several hours Tuesday night.
The No. 2 Senate GOP leader said he expects the deal on pandemic relief to provide direct payments of $600 to $700 for individuals and $300-per-week in enhanced unemployment benefits.
South Dakota Senator John Thune said he also expects the package won’t include direct aid to state and local governments or liability protections for employers.
He said the goal is for the House to clear it in time for the Senate to give final passage on Friday. It would be attached to a broader spending bill to fund government operations, which needs to pass Congress by Friday to avert a shutdown. However, he said it remains possible that lawmakers would have to approve another stopgap spending bill to provide more time for the legislation to be finished.
“I think both sides are sufficiently motivated given the time of the year and everything that’s at stake and trying to get virus relief out there,” Thune said.
McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, said he and other leaders “made major headway for hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package” that can pass both chambers. He said they agreed that they “will not leave town until we’ve made law.”
Asked if the package including virus relief and government spending bills will be completed and passed by Friday, when federal funding runs out, McConnell said: “We’re making good progress.”
Source: Orange County Register