Senate Assures to Deliver Relief Aid Before Leaving the House


After months of impasse in negotiations, congressional leaders seemed to break through the logjam after meeting twice Tuesday for hours.

Emerging from her office Tuesday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, "We'll be on schedule to get the job done".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a speech in the Senate Wednesday morning, said "major headway" has been made on the relief package that could pass the House and Senate with bipartisan majorities.

The Senate majority leader said money is needed not only for the American people suffering from the economic fallout caused by the pandemic but to help re-up the Payment Protection Program and for vaccine distribution. There wasn't a lot of pushback on the call, and sources described the atmosphere on the call as positive.

While the new bill will likely include payments to most Americans - aid to states and cities is being scrapped, as well as liability protections for companies over COVID-19 litigation concerns. Further, the package is also expected to offer up to $330 billion for small businesses, as well as funds for vaccine distribution.

Democratic and GOP leaders have said Congress shouldn't adjourn until they have passed a coronavirus aid package.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranked member of GOP leadership, suggested to Capitol Hill reporters on Wednesday morning that the direct payments could be $600 or $700 per person though nothing was final. The unemployment benefit under discussion was about $300 per week, he said.

"We are going to stay right here until we are finished, even if that means working into or through the weekend", he said.

Congressional leaders were closing in on a roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief deal expected to include another round of direct payments to households feeling the pain of the pandemic's battering of the global economy, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

It won't be an easy task.

Global Covid-19 cases top 72.2mn: Johns Hopkins
Of the remaining 14,515 active cases, 118 are being held in intensive care and 56 of those are in need of assisted breathing. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya on November 21, 2020.

Even as enthusiasm built that the long-stalled stimulus talks were finally bearing fruit, it was clear that the potential agreement was far smaller than what economists say is needed. But they refused to share any details.

If lawmakers don't pass legislation through both chambers of Congress by the end of Friday, they would need to pass stopgap funding to keep the government open.

Negotiators are up against the clock ahead of a Friday at midnight deadline when government funding expires, and barring any major last-minute snags, lawmakers could be on track for a vote in the House on Thursday followed by a vote in the Senate on Friday. She was appointed to that seat because she is a high Republican donor and she's an investment professional and she didn't waste any time trying to make good on her investment."Referring to news that was first reported by The Daily Beast back in March, Warnock said, "When she heard about the coronavirus pandemic, instead of thinking about the people of Georgia and what they need, she was busy dumping millions of dollars of stock."She profited from the pandemic". Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). who remains dissatisfied with the overall package.

We're not leaving here without a COVID package. Other progressives are echoing that sentiment - as are Sens.

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania, is pushing GOP leaders to include language he's proposed to limit the Fed's authority.

If a quick Senate vote is blocked, there could be a brief government shutdown over the weekend.

Leaders plan to attach the pandemic relief plan to a $1.4 trillion bill that would fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

That's not yet clear, since a deal has yet to be released and the details are scarce about what may be included. Chairman Jerome Powell - who has repeatedly said additional fiscal stimulus is needed to support the economy until a vaccine is in broad use - will discuss the Fed's decision afterward at a news conference. Lawmakers may also extend the federal eviction moratorium and defer student loan payments.

No liability shield or state and local aid: The deal reportedly omits the liability protections Republicans have sought or dedicated aid for state and local governments that Democrats have demanded, two provisions that have been the most contentious throughout negotiations.