Congressional leaders are reportedly begining to close in on an agreement for a $900 billion COVID-19 relief deal that could include more stimulus checks.
NBC News writes that the package is currently in the process of being finalized, and will include more federal jobless benefits, support for small businesses, and money to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The stimulus payment amount has yet to be determined, with some indicating it could be at least $600 per person. The last stimulus checks were up to $1,200 depending on the individual's income, and other aides have suggested the new round could be higher than $600. So far, negotiators have reportedly not settled on any income cap for the payments.
"It's not a done deal yet. But we are very close," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday.
"We made major headway toward hammering out a targeted pandemic relief package that would be able to pass both chambers with bipartisan majorities," added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "We committed to continuing these urgent discussions until we have an agreement, and we agreed we will not leave town until we've made law."
The news comes after multiple holdups on the new stimulus package, including Trump delaying the negotiations until after the Nov. 3 election.
"Of course there is a strong desire to ensure that there are direct payments to everyday Americans who have been struggling month after month," said House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries in a press conference.
Plans for the stimulus package started earlier this week with no direct payments included in the negotiations, but numerous House progressives have put pressure on congressional leaders to include them. Trump, in fact, has supported more stimulus checks, as has Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"Hopefully the package comes together," said Senate Majority Whip John Thune on Wednesday. "The House will move on it first and then we'll get it over here, and we can wrap things up."
It is expected the deal will be sorted out by Friday, Dec. 18, which is the deadline to pass legislation to keep the government funded. "As far as the deadline on Friday—it could, I mean by the time everything gets processed but I think there's a real incentive to get it done by then," added Thune. "I think both sides are sufficiently motivated given the time of the year and everything that's at stake and trying to get virus relief out there."
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