U.S. congressional negotiators on Wednesday were "closing in on" a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill that will include $600 to $700 stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, and Congress could start voting within 24 hours, lawmakers and aides said.
SCHUMER: "It's not a done deal yet, but we are very close" Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer appeared optimistic on Wednesday that a COVID deal will soon be struck, a day after negotiations with Congressional leadership went late into the night, with lawmakers and aides telling Reuters voting could start as early as Thursday.
The $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill on the table would include stimulus checks of $600 to $700 and extended unemployment benefits for the millions thrown out of work amid the pandemic.
"Yesterday, we had two very long and very productive meetings.
Our final discussion stretched late into the evening.
And as we race the clock to reach a final accord before the end of the year, we are close to an agreement." The measure, to be attached to a spending bill that must pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown, is not expected to include new protections for companies from lawsuits related to the pandemic, something high on the Republican agenda.
Still, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the two sides were making significant progress.
"We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package that would be able to pass both chambers with bipartisan majorities.
We committed to continuing these urgent discussions until we have an agreement.
And we agreed we will not leave town until we've made law." Lawmakers are seeking to pass the emergency relief package through both chambers of Congress and attach it to a much larger spending bill and get it to President Donald Trump's desk before funding runs out on Friday, in order to avert a government shutdown.