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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.

Go deeper

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

35 mins ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.