An arcane battle over emergency Federal Reserve powers is frustrating efforts to lock down an agreement on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package, the AP reports. Saturday's impasse is just the latest stumble in a partisan, monthslong fight, and feelings hardened as the Senate congregated for a weekend session. Lawmakers on both sides said a provision by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would curb emergency Federal Reserve powers was the sticking point. Republicans are insisting on the Toomey plan, while Democrats are adamantly against it. A compromise was proving elusive, and the two sides seem stuck for the time being. "That has to be resolved. And then everything will fall into place," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "It's a very significant difference."
Toomey defended his controversial provision in a floor speech, saying the emergency powers were designed to stabilize capital markets at the height of the COVID panic this spring and are expiring at the end of the month anyway. The language would block the Biden administration from restarting them. Even Toomey said this week that his provision "could be seen as redundant," but neither he nor his Democratic adversaries were backing down from the fight, though compromise language was being shuttled back and forth. At issue are Fed emergency programs, launched amid the pandemic this spring, that provided loans to small and mid-size businesses and bought state and local government bonds. Click for the full story. (Or see what your relief check might look like.)