WASHINGTON – Senior lawmakers reached a compromise on the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers late Saturday night, overcoming a major hurdle that prevented Congress from completing a more $ 900 billion coronavirus relief program early in the week, according to several sources.
A last-minute roadblock emerged on Friday as Democrats accused Republicans, namely Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, of trying to embarrass the new Biden administration by cutting the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending capacity created by the CARES law intended to protect the already struggling economy.
“Now that Democrats have accepted a version of the important language of Senator Toomey, we can begin to shut down the rest of the package to bring much-needed relief to families, workers and businesses,” a spokesperson for the leader said. Senate majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told NBC News.
The compromise language is being finalized and all open points should be settled overnight, according to two assistants.
The legislation has yet to be released, but the deal is expected to include direct payments of $ 600 for qualifying Americans, a federal unemployment insurance premium of $ 300 per week, more money for businesses that have struggling to pay rent and workers and vaccine distribution funds.
A spokesperson for Toomey called the deal “an unqualified victory for taxpayers.”
“Senate Republicans have met our four goals regarding the Federal Reserve’s CARES Act loan programs,” Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly said.
“This deal cancels over $ 429 billion in unused CARES Act funds; definitively terminates the loan facilities of the CARES law before December 31, 2020; prevents the restart of these facilities and prohibits their duplication without the approval of Congress, ”Kelly added. This deal will preserve the independence of the Fed and prevent Democrats from hijacking these programs for political and social gain. ”
Democrats, on the other hand, said the new language was a concession to Toomey and his GOP allies.
“After going back and forth all day with Leader Schumer, Senator Toomey agreed to drop the general wording of his proposal which would have prevented the Fed chairman from establishing facilities similar to those in the future. created in March, ”said a senior official. Democratic aid.
Congressional leaders opted for a midweek framework that was to include a $ 300 federal unemployment bonus, a new round of direct payments, funding for small businesses and money to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.
The House had already informed the votes as early as 1 p.m. Sunday.
“We are getting very close. Very close, ”Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said at the Capitol Hill Pool on Saturday night.
He said it “looks like we can” pass a Covid-19 relief bill in both chambers “if things continue on this path and nothing stands in the way”.
The negotiations come after months of crises and failed talks that have led to breaches of various provisions of the CARES Act, including the federal unemployment premium of $ 600 per week, increasing the suffering of millions of Americans to across the country that have struggled to make ends.
The deal was due to be reached earlier in the week, but it hit a roadblock after some Republicans demanded an end from Federal Reserve authorities for emergency loans. Democrats pushed back, accusing the GOP of seeking to sabotage the economy overseen by new President Joe Biden.
The two parties have long disagreed over price and policy, but negotiations have been started in recent weeks by a bipartisan group of moderate Senators and House members known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, which has quietly started informal discussions to develop a viable framework.
Their discussions resulted in a deal on a $ 748 billion proposal that became the basis of negotiations between McConnell, Schumer, House of Commons Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., As well as the Trump administration.
Alexandra Moe and Sahil Kapur reported from Washington and Alicia Victoria Lozano from Los Angeles.