Congressional Leaders Work to finalize a $900 Billion Stimulus Deal
Congressional leaders fought against a Sunday night deadline to avoid a government shutdown and worked feverishly on Saturday to resolve an impasse on a Republican push to curtail the powers of the Federal Reserve, which threatened to amount to a compromise plan derailed from $ 900 billion.
After months of stalling a new pandemic relief package, Democrats and Republicans were on the verge of finalizing an emergency plan to provide direct payments, unemployment benefits, and food and rental assistance to millions of Americans. Relief for businesses; and funds for the distribution of vaccines.
Talks were cut short when a CDC panel approved a second vaccine from Moderna, and the country faced another strong reminder of the urgent need for vaccines: Friday According to a New York Times database that tracks vaccinations, over 251,000 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded, almost double the number of 128,000 people vaccinated in the United States on Friday. Officials warn that hospitals, which now have almost 114,000 Covid 19 patients, could soon be overwhelmed.
Vaccines are also being distributed in the UK, where the raging virus caused an abrupt reversal on Saturday: Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a comprehensive lockdown on London and most of south-east England.
In Washington, the two sides disagreed on a proposal from Pennsylvania Republican Senator Patrick J. Toomey to ensure the termination of a number of pandemic relief programs that the Fed and the US may have launched earlier this year, including the ability limit the central bank to fight future financial crises.
“We are within reach,” said spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi on Saturday in a conference call privately to the House Democrats. But she said that Mr. Toomey’s late-stage calls to contain the Fed slowed the process.
On Saturday evening, Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin, the secondary Democrat, said the dispute cost negotiators another day to cement a deal.
The emerging deal would send $ 600 direct payments to many Americans and allow for improved payments of $ 300 per week for the unemployed by the spring. It would also allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to shore up small businesses, schools and other institutions struggling amid the pandemic.
However, Democrats said that Mr Toomey’s proposal, which was accepted by Republicans, was an attempt to undercut President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his administration’s ability to further support the country’s economic recovery.
As worked out, the proposal would prevent the Fed and Treasury from reestablishing programs that helped maintain the flow of credit to municipal borrowers, midsize businesses and corporations during the pandemic recession. It would also prevent similar programs from being created in the future.
Legislators and advisors from both parties admitted that the Fed ruling was the biggest hurdle to a final settlement, although negotiators were still haggling over a number of prominent technical details, including the provision of food aid and the level of unemployment benefits.
As the state funds were due to run out on Sunday and both chambers were hoping to combine the stimulus package with an overall measure to cover all federal spending for the remainder of the financial year, the time for a solution became shorter and shorter.
With no action by Congress, two programs to expand and improve unemployment benefits will expire in the coming days, leaving approximately 12 million Americans with no federal support. A number of other benefits will expire at the end of the year.