Political Odd Couple May Have Paved Way for COVID Relief

Meanwhile, a government shutdown loomed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2020 5:30 AM CST
Senate Deal Paves Way for COVID Bill as Shutdown Looms
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Top congressional lawmakers struck a late-night agreement on the last major obstacle to a COVID-19 economic relief package costing nearly $1 trillion, clearing the way for votes as early as Sunday. Per the AP, a Democratic aide said that an agreement had been reached late Saturday and that compromise language was being finalized to seal a deal to be unveiled soon. The breakthrough involved a fight over Federal Reserve emergency powers that was defused by an odd couple: the Senate’s top Democrat and a senior conservative Republican. “We’re getting very close, very close," Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier Saturday as he spent much of the day going back and forth with GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Toomey had been pressing a provision to close down Fed lending facilities that Democrats and the White House said was too broadly worded and would have tied the hands of the incoming Biden administration. The bill, lawmakers and aides say, would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefits and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, along with a fresh round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and funding for schools, health care providers, and renters facing eviction. Schumer said he hoped both the House and Senate would vote on the measure Sunday. That would take more cooperation than the Senate can usually muster, but a government shutdown deadline loomed at midnight Sunday and all sides were eager to leave for Christmas. (More COVID relief bill stories.)

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