Congressional negotiators are down to a few remaining issues as they seek to finalize an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that a provision by Sen. Pat Toomey, which would curb emergency Federal Reserve powers which was the biggest hurdle to a sealing a deal.
“That has to be resolved, and then everything will fall into place,” she said. “It’s a very significant difference.”
A new deadline of midnight Sunday for a government shutdown served as a backstop for the negotiations,
“We need to conclude our talks, draft legislation, and land this plane,” Mitch McConnell said.
A spokesman for Pelosi said she told Democratic colleagues on a Saturday conference call “we’re right within reach.”
A Senate vote would follow, close to Monday. One more short-term funding bill probably would be needed to avoid the looming deadline.
Lawmakers are eager to exit Washington and close out a tumultuous year.
The $900 billion package comes as the pandemic is delivering its most fearsome surge yet, killing more than 3,000 victims per day and straining the health care system. While vaccines are on the way, most people won’t get them for months. Jobless claims are on the rise.
The agreement would deliver more than $300 billion in aid to businesses and provide the jobless a $300-per-week bonus federal unemployment benefit and renewal of state benefits that would otherwise expire right after Christmas. It includes $600 direct payments to individuals; vaccine distribution funds and money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid.
“As we navigate through an unprecedented economic crisis, it is in the interests of the American people to maintain the Fed’s ability to respond quickly and forcefully,” said Brian Deese, an economic adviser to Biden.