Lawmakers strike stimulus deal ahead of midnight deadline

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U.S. lawmakers were rushing to reach agreement on a $ 900 billion economic relief plan before the midnight Sunday deadline after reaching a treat on Republican demands to limit the Federal Reserve’s crisis lending powers.

Republicans and Democrats crafted a bipartisan compromise on Saturday after Republican Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania sought to insert language into legislation that would prevent the Fed from reactivating emergency credit facilities that would expire at the end of the year.

Lawmakers on both sides had said the issue was a stumbling block to finalizing a massive stimulus package that would be one of the biggest economic relief bills in U.S. history, just after Cares Act of $ 2.2 billion in March of this year.

But there were several outstanding issues on Sunday afternoon, leaving lawmakers just hours to reach a comprehensive deal before midnight.

The stimulus package is expected to include means-tested payments of up to $ 600 for American adults, additional unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs, more than $ 200 billion in additional relief for small children. businesses and increased federal funding for the supplement. Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps.

Senators have warned that if a full deal is not approved by both houses of Congress by the end of the day, lawmakers would have to pass another “continuing resolution” to avoid the government shutdown. A similar measure was passed on Friday night when it became clear that Congress would miss the previous deadline.

“We are correcting the remaining differences. I believe I can speak for all parties when I say that I hope and hope that a final agreement will be reached in a few hours ”. Mitch mcconnell, said the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate on Sunday afternoon.

“At this point, we are at the final differences between struggling Americans and the major bailout they need and deserve,” he added. “These days and nights of negotiations have been encouraging. But our citizens need this waiting game to be over. “

Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said that although there were “a few unresolved questions” he “very much” hopes lawmakers are “getting closer” to a deal.

“It seems that barring a major accident, the Senate and the House will be able to vote on the final legislation as of this evening,” he added.

Any deal would have to be approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-held Senate before being sent to the White House for Donald Trump’s signature.

Mr Schumer said any deal reached before the end of the year “would not be the last word on congressional relief from Covid.” Joe Biden, the Democratic president-elect, said adopting an additional economic stimulus would be a top priority for his administration.

“When that chamber returns in 2021, we need to pick up right away where we left off,” Schumer said.

Senators on both sides, however, have warned they have yet to see the text of an agreement, which is expected to span hundreds of pages and take hours to review. The House will need to approve any deal before it goes to the Senate for approval, which will lead many senators to predict that a vote in the Upper House would be more likely to take place on Monday, at the earliest.

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