Congress close to deal on stimulus, business loans and unemployment

After about eight months of stalemate, Democrats and Republicans in Congress are set to strike a deal on more COVID-19 stimulus checks, small business loans and UI aid.

Final details of the relief plan are being negotiated ahead of the government funding deadline of midnight Friday, but negotiators shared the outline with reporters.

The deal is expected to include direct checks of $ 600 or $ 700 for most Americans, a weekly unemployment supplement of $ 300, and a large amount of repayable small business loans.

But the package should exclude two things that have caused the long-standing deadlock.

The corporate liability protections sought by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Have not been upheld, nor have the Democrats’ demand for massive public and local aid, that the Republicans saw it as a way to bail out long-indebted Democratic governments. .

The precise amount of likely stimulus checks is unknown. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) told reporters on Wednesday the checks would go up to $ 600 or $ 700 – rather than the more generous $ 1,200 round in March.

REUTERS / Erin Scott / File photo

The checks would likely be means-tested, as in March, with people earning higher wages receiving less money and people earning over $ 95,000 receiving nothing.

The negotiations could drag on until Friday. In previous rounds of relief talks in March, apparent deals have often been stuck due to last-minute fighting over seemingly minor details.

Among the latest disagreements is the amount of federal disaster relief funds allowed, which Political reports are viewed by some Republicans as stolen state and local aid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke on the phone until late Wednesday night.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted that Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mnuchin had spoken around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and “underlined the urgency of reaching an immediate agreement and will exchange additional documents and resume conversations in the morning.”

Congress last week approved a government funding for a week agreement to extend negotiations.

The most recent major COVID-19 stimulus bill spent in april authorizing an extension of the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program, which converts loans into grants if certain conditions are met. In May, the Congress voted to relax the rules of the program. President Trump signed this law in June.

An important case has long been elusive. In an opening offer, House Democrats passed in May a doomed $ 3 trillion banknote, including nearly $ 1 trillion in state and local aid.

The pressure for a compromise was eased in August when Trump signed a series of decrees protect people from eviction, temporarily create a weekly unemployment supplement of $ 300, and delay student loan payments.

The pre-Christmas push for relief comes as authorities re-order businesses to shut down amid rising infections. Recent media coverage has focused on long lines and calls from restaurant owners who say they are at risk of shutting down for good. An estimated 12 million people are at risk of losing their unemployment benefits on December 26 without legislation.

The stimulus deal is expected to include food aid and funds to support vaccinations, which started this week After the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, funds for besieged regional transit systems and various other initiatives are likely.

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