'We're close to an agreement,' Schumer says as Democratic and GOP leaders near finalizing a stimulus deal

Denitsa Tsekova
·Reporter
·3 min read

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both expressed optimism about reaching a stimulus deal after a series of meetings between Democratic and Republican leaders over the last two days.

“We’re close to an agreement,” Schumer said from the Senate floor on Wednesday morning. “It's not a done deal yet, but we are very close.”

This comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) invited McConnell, Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Tuesday to meet and finalize a stimulus bill, ending a months-long negotiations gridlock. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has been representing the White House in talks, also joined the meetings by phone.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) waits while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak after the casket with the remains of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) was carried from the U.S. Capitol building, in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2020. Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS
House Speaker Pelosi waits while Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Schumer speak outside the U.S. Capitol building, in Washington, July 29, 2020. Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS

McConnell also appeared optimistic about the negotiations on Wednesday.

“We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package that will be able to pass all chambers, with bipartisan majorities,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. “We’re committed to continuing these urgent discussions until we have an agreement.”

The deal lawmakers are discussing has a price tag of around $900 billion, according to reporting by Politico. The new deal leans on the bipartisan $748 billion stimulus bill introduced by lawmakers on Monday and includes provisions both parties support, along with a second round of stimulus checks per Politico’s reports, a provision that wasn't included in the bipartisan proposal.

Provisions in the $748 billion bipartisan proposal that likely could be part of the finalized deal include the extension of two expiring unemployment programs, an additional $300 a week in jobless benefits, another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), rental assistance, student loan forbearance, and funding for testing, tracing and vaccine distribution, among others.

“The meeting signifies a good faith effort of negotiators to reach consensus before the holidays,” Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, told Yahoo Money. “That’s only been possible because they’ve been willing to compromise on issues that were bright lines in the past.”

‘We will work in the future to provide additional relief’

The deal likely leaves out state and local government aid and liability protections for businesses — both key sticking points in earlier negotiations. Democrats called the liability protection a “poison pill,” while the GOP characterized the state and local aid as a “blue state bailout.”

The bipartisan group married those provisions in a separate bill and left the provisions lawmakers agree on in the $748 billion package. McConnell proposed this as a compromise between the two parties last week, saying they should “set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on.”

Both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs are set to expire on December 26 unless Congress reaches a stimulus deal.
Both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs are set to expire on December 26 unless Congress reaches a stimulus deal.

Democrats and Republicans have both said they may return to the negotiation table for another stimulus package next year to get those provisions through.

“Make no mistake, we will work in the future to provide additional relief, as the country requires, but we need to provide a platform to build on,” Schumer said on Wednesday. “We need to address this emergency right now.”

If a deal isn’t passed by Congress and signed by the president in the coming days, up to 12 million Americans would lose unemployment benefits coverage when two programs enacted under the CARES Act expire on Dec. 26. The federal eviction moratorium, paid sick leave, aid to state and local governments, among other relief, also will lapse.

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Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.

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