The elusive deal could finally be here: Congress close to coronavirus deal that includes stimulus checks
Senate and House leaders are on the cusp of a coronavirus relief deal that will include direct $600 to $700 direct stimulus payments and $300-per-week supplemental unemployment assistance, according to sources familiar with the talks.
The $900 billion package is the result of months of stop-and-start negotiations that received a boost in early December when a bipartisan group of senators and House members unveiled their own $908 billion package after talks between Democratic leaders and the White House stalled.
However, nothing is a done deal and negotiations are running into 11th-hour snags, threatening to push Congress into a rare weekend session.
The emerging deal will not include $160 billion in new state and local aid or liability protection for businesses and other organizations — two of the most contentious issues of the talk.
The new round of stimulus checks cost approximately the same as the $160 billion in state and local aid that negotiators have set aside in hopes of reaching a deal by week’s end.
Senate and House leaders want to attach the new coronavirus relief package to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package that needs to pass by Dec. 18 to keep the government funded. That means Congress has to pass the sweeping legislation – or another continuing resolution (CR) – by the end of Friday in order to prevent a government shutdown.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the No. 4 GOP senator, pointed to a myriad of moving parts, including lawmakers trying to hitch their legislative pet projects on the final moving train of the year, that are throwing a curveball into the timing of an agreement.
“We’re close enough that these could close pretty quickly but they might not,” he said. “You’ve got the omni, you’ve got COVID and then you’ve got all these little extraneous pieces.”