Leaders hope to attach COVID-19 relief package to a $ 1.4 trillion year-end spending bill and end the 2020 legislative session in time for lawmakers to return home for Christmas .
The main issues that have bogged down discussions about a new COVID-19 relief program for much of this year, such as whether to provide large sums of money to state and local governments and how much to spend on supplementary federal unemployment insurance, are resolved.
The potential deal is now stalled over a disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over the special lending powers given to the Federal Reserve in the CARES Act, which Congress passed in March.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Who is set to become the next chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, wants the wording to reduce the Fed’s credit facilities.
Toomey met the senator on Saturday afternoon. Cotton TomTom Bryant CottonDefense Bill Battle Presents GOP 2024 Hopes Overnight Defense: Congress Sends Trump Defense Bill He Threatened to Veto | Senate Approves Interim Spending Bill to Prevent Closure | Navy looking for sailor overboard Senate passes defense bill, sets up fight against Trump veto MORE (R-Ark.) And Schumer in the Capitol chief’s office to find a compromise.
“I think we should be able to strike a deal,” Toomey told reporters after the meeting.
The two sides agreed to exchange written proposals on Saturday evening to work out the details, which is becoming a delicate task.
Schumer put on a more pessimistic tone shortly before a 6 p.m. vote.
“We send offers both ways, but I don’t know,” he says. “We’ll see what his offer is.”
Schumer said Toomey’s proposal went “way beyond” what Democrats are comfortable with and expressed concern that there hasn’t been more Congressional study on the matter.
“We are trying but it is new and what they are asking for goes way beyond. It’s the kind of thing that should have a strong legislative discussion, ”he said. “We are doing our best to pass this bill.”
His. John CornynJohn CornynCongress passes bill to avoid shutdown as coronavirus talks extend over weekend Government faces shutdown as year-end deal remains elusive Hawley warns he could delay interim bill as closure looms MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to the Senate GOP leadership, said that once there is an agreement to readjust the Federal Reserve’s authority under section 13 (3) of Federal Reserve Act, which was expanded into the CARES Act, Congress will quickly move the package wider.
“It looks like they’re both going to go back and write their proposals. But it looks like both sides are trying to get to where they need to go, ”he said.
Toomey’s language was the main point of discussion on a conference call Republican senators held with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin early Saturday afternoon.
Majority leader in the Senate Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Congress Passes Bill To Avoid Shutdown As Coronavirus Talks Extend Into Weekend | Federal Reserve puts relief negotiations at risk Congress passes bill to avoid shutdown as coronavirus talks extend over weekends Overnight healthcare: CVS and Walgreens to start home vaccinations retirement | Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera | 8.2 million people sign up for ObamaCare LEARN MORE (R-Ky.) Told colleagues on the call that he fully endorsed Toomey’s proposal, which would end the Fed’s lending facilities that were receiving money under the CARES Act.
These programs are the Primary Market Corporate Bond Credit Facility, the Main Street Loan Program and the Municipal Credit Facility.
Toomey defended his proposal on Saturday in the Senate.
“These facilities did exactly what they were designed to do,” he said, arguing that the programs have restored private credit markets and there is no need to continue.
“This is not a big rewrite of the Fed’s 13 (3) lending facility,” he said, adding that lawmakers still intended to end the extended authority on Dec. 31. .
Republican senators said Toomey’s language was the only substantive part of the relief program they discussed and that many of its other elements were unconfirmed.
His. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump signs bill to keep government open amid money-relief talks: Congress passes bill to avoid shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekends -end | Federal Reserve Put Night Health Care Relief Negotiations At Risk: CVS, Walgreens To Start Nursing Home Vaccinations | Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera | 8.2 million people sign up for ObamaCare LEARN MORE (R-Mo.), However, said he had received a commitment that a provision to provide $ 600 stimulus checks will remain in the package.
Schumer told fellow Democrats on a 5 p.m. conference call that Toomey had expressed willingness to change his language and that a deal was possible, although he added that a deal was not expected on Saturday evening.
That calendar would hold a final vote on a combined coronavirus relief and omnibus spending program for Sunday night or Monday.
The legislation is expected to include a package to extend expiring tax provisions and possibly also bipartisan energy legislation – the result of months of work by Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann Murkowski Former teacher union leader seen as Biden’s top candidate for education secretary No, Biden has yet to win – another nightmarish scenario Government spending bill to include provisions two-party energy PLUS (R-Alaska).
But finding the right language about the Fed’s lending authorities is a challenge.
“They are working on it but it is still very difficult. We will see, ”the senator said. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann Stabenow NIGHT ENERGY: Government Scientists Predict Building Border Wall Could Harm Wildlife Sanctuary | Haaland’s appointment sparks enthusiasm in Native American communities | Trump officials wrongly awarded Alaska grant to try to open Tongass Trump wrongly awarded Alaska grant to open Tongass Forest to logging: the struggle for power sparks tensions among Senate Democrats READ MORE (Tell me.).
“When we write it down it seems like he wants to do more than what he says,” she added.
Another Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss the matter said there was a bipartisan agreement that the Federal Reserve’s authority should be reset to what it was before the March pandemic, but Toomey and Schumer cannot yet agree on the language.
“The problem is, Toomey speaks very sensibly, then they get language and the language is like, ‘No that’s not what we agreed to,” the senator said.
A third Democratic senator briefed by Schumer said: “There is no deal. ”
“Anything is possible, but there’s no deal at the table and it’s not like one side is waiting to hear from the other. I’m sure there is a way to write statutory language in the next 48 hours that doesn’t come back and bite us, ”the source said. “It’s super complicated. ”
“It is really difficult to find a way forward if they continue to insist that this be part of the package,” added the senator. “It’s the last thing you should do in the dead of night.”
McConnell wants to avoid having to pass another short-term spending resolution. He would need the unanimous consent of 99 other senators to remove the procedural hurdles, and some of his colleagues are frustrated at having to adopt interim measures.
“If they can’t do it [Sunday] we are facing another stop and i dont know what is the appetite for another CR. People are not happy, ”said a GOP senator, referring to the possible need for another continued resolution to fund the government.
Some Republicans are getting impatient with a fight that was not on their radar a week ago, though Toomey has included a version of his proposal in a lean relief package that Senate Republicans put forward after the recess. August.
“It’s taking a lot longer than I would like,” Sen said. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins Lawmakers Call on Trump to Take Action Against Massive Government Hack Senator Alexander Plays Christmas Carols in Senate Offices No, Biden has yet to win – another nightmare scenario MORE (R-Maine).
But negotiators are under pressure from both sides not to back down on the Federal Reserve’s language.
“If they want to cut the Fed facilities and drive this country into a depression, I’m prepared to stay here over the holiday season. This is bullshit, ”Sen said. Jon testerJonathan (Jon) Tester Senate Democrat: Party’s Message to Rural Voters ‘Really Flawed’ Defense Choice Faces Big Hurdle Warren Says She Will Vote Against Relinquishing Biden’s Pentagon Choice MORE (D-Mont.).
Democrats have expressed frustration over the issue, saying it is an effort to limit the tools available to President-elect Biden next year.
But Republicans are rallying around Toomey.
“Democrats are trying to expand it to use it as a backdoor to do what they couldn’t do through the front door,” Sen said. John KennedyJohn Neely Kennedy PLUS (R-La.), Expressing the concern of many Republicans that the new Biden administration could transform Fed authorities to funnel aid to state and local governments.
“I think we have to stand firm,” Kennedy said.
The Senate is due to open on Sunday at 1 p.m. and its first vote is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.