Top Democrats and Republicans on Sunday said they were optimistic that a nearly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package could be passed by Congress after agreeing on a compromise over the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers.
Arriving at the Capitol for a rare Sunday session, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that both sides are “really, really close.”
“We are winnowing down the remaining differences. I think I can speak for all sides when I say I expect and hope to have a final agreement nailed down in a matter of hours,” McConnell said later from the Senate floor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed McConnell’s sentiments, saying “we’re close. We’re very close.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, said it is optimistic that the bill will pass.
“The optimism is let’s get it done,” McCarthy said on “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding later that “I am very hopeful that we get this done today.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was instrumental in reaching the Federal Reserve compromise with GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, said “barring a major mishap” a vote could come “as early as tonight.”
Schumer and Toomey (R-Pa.) resolved one of the last major stumbling blocks to the legislation late Saturday over whether the Federal Reserve could restart emergency lending programs to help corporate, municipal and medium-size businesses.
Toomey wanted to bar the agency and the Treasury Department from setting up any loan program similar to those set up this year because of the coronavirus.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerAFP via Getty Images
He said Sunday lawmakers were still trying to finalize the language in the Federal Reserve provision, but made it clear he was onboard with the stimulus package.
“Despite the significant reservations I have about some particular features, I think the good outweighs the bad and it is my intention at this point to vote for it,” he said during a conference call with reporters.
The legislation comes as the death toll from COVID-19 in the US approaches 317,000 and the US economy is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus downturn.
Without action by Congress, millions of Americans out of work would have lost unemployment benefits on Dec. 26.
The relief bill establishes a temporary $300 per week supplement jobless benefits and includes $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans.
Shortly after midnight Sunday, Trump tweeted, “GET IT DONE.”
“Why isn’t Congress giving our people a Stimulus Bill? It wasn’t their fault, it was the fault of China. GET IT DONE, and give them more money in direct payments,” Trump posted.
In the $2.2 trillion relief bill passed in March, Congress approved $1,200 direct payments.
This package also provides more subsidies for businesses, more funds for schools and health-care provides, and eviction protection for renters.
The COVID-19 relief bill is being combined with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that must be approved by midnight to avoid a government shutdown.
But reports say some lawmakers may approve a stopgap 24-hour extension to give them additional time to negotiate the details of that package.
A 48-hour funding extension passed Friday expires Sunday at midnight.
With Post wires