Dec 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders move closer to striking stimulus deal

Picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Congressional leaders are moving closer to striking a compromise on coronavirus relief funding, and could soon announce a roughly $900 billion rescue package with a second round of direct payments as low as $600, sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

The state of play: Negotiations between House and Senate leaders and the White House are ongoing and the details are not yet finalized, but this is the closest Congress has been to reaching a stimulus deal in months.

  • Their goal is to tie a relief package to long-term government funding legislation that must pass by Friday to avert a shutdown.
  • Details of the potential compromise were first reported by Politico.

What we're hearing: The proposal is expected to include nearly all of the provisions included in the $748 billion bill put forth by a bipartisan group of lawmakers earlier this week.

  • It's expected to leave out the most contested aspects — including additional funding for state and local governments and a liability shield for businesses.
  • But unlike the bipartisan bill, the leadership proposal is expected to include stimulus checks — something the White House pushed for in the 11th-hour talks.
  • However, the amount will likely be closer to $600, not the $1,200 checks included in the March CARES package. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who have called for $1,200 checks, suggested last week they would hold up government funding if Congress doesn't pass direct payments.

Behind the scenes: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were locked in negotiations until nearly midnight Wednesday morning.

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin participated on behalf of the White House.
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