It looks like Congress is on track to reach a deal on a COVID stimulus package before the end of the week, one that would include relief checks for Americans, though at a smaller amount than the first ones of $1,200. Coverage:
- Key numbers: Most Americans are expected to get checks of $600, reports CNN. The unemployed would get an additional $300 per week in benefits as part of the $900 billion measure. Democrats and Republicans continue to wrangle over the aid amounts, however.
- Georgia factor: Republicans initially balked at a second round of relief checks, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his GOP colleagues in a conference call that the two Republican senators in Georgia's upcoming runoff races were getting "hammered" on the issue, reports Politico. The races will decide who controls the Senate next year.
- A concession: McConnell also has budged on a key concession—the GOP will no longer insist on liability protections for business owners whose employees contract the coronavirus. McConnell once called this a "red line," but he relented when a bipartisan group of senators began pushing for a deal, writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times. "It's possible this bipartisan deal will end up being a one-time event," adds Leonhardt. "But it doesn't have to be. Senators have it within their power to find other areas of compromise next year, during Joe Biden's presidency—even if McConnell does not favor those deals."
- On the other hand: McConnell is still getting most of what he wanted in the emerging deal, reports the Hill. That includes the removal of a large pool of new funding for state and local governments dealing with pandemic-related shortfalls. The AP puts the amount at about $160 billion. "It's heartbreaking for us," says Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, referring to his home state.
- Other help: The package is expected to include money for renters facing eviction, food aid, and farm subsidies, per the AP. The Postal Service may get a $10 billion bailout.
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