Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging congressional lawmakers to work through Christmas until another round of coronavirus relief is passed.
During a Tuesday, December 15, press conference on Capitol Hill, the Kentucky Republican told reporters, “We’re not leaving here without a Covid package. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to stay here until we get a Covid package, no matter how long it takes.” Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a similar proclamation.
McConnell also urged Democrats to drop their demand for additional state and local government funding, one of two major sticking points among negotiators, CNBC reported. The other is Republicans calls for liability protections for businesses, health care facilities and school systems, which McConnell said they would forego in return, the outlet continued.
Top negotiators, including McConnell, Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, appeared to make strides later in the day during stimulus and government funding meetings, CNBC said. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also called in, the outlet continued.
According to CNBC, Pelosi called the discussion to address the two main sticking points between both sides.
The New York Times said “government funding will lapse Saturday and 12 million people will lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas,” should Congress fail to pass a spending bill by Friday.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Negotiators Expressed Optimism by the End of the Day
CNBC reported that McConnell “sounded more optimistic than he has in months about the prospect of lawmakers striking a bipartisan aid deal” while leaving the Capitol around 10 p.m.
“We’re making significant progress and I’m optimistic that we’re gonna be able to complete an understanding sometime soon,” he told reporters, according to NBC News. However, he did not comment on the specifics of a potential agreement.
Schumer echoed McConnell’s claims, CNBC continued, saying lawmakers are “making progress” and hope to come to “an agreement soon.”
Pelosi, as she was leaving the Capitol just before midnight, expressed a similar sentiment, The New York Times said.
“We’re talking about going forward,” she said, the newspaper reported. “Tomorrow, we’ll be back early, and we’ll be on schedule to get the job done.”
A Bipartisan Group Announced a $908 Billion Proposal on Monday, December 14
A bipartisan group of senators and representatives released a $908 billion proposal on Monday, December 14, according to The Hill. The bill would allocate $700 billion toward small business loans, unemployment insurance, vaccine distribution, rental assistance and education, CNBC added.
It would extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits, as well as provide an additional $300 weekly supplement for 16 weeks, the outlet reported. It also seeks to continue federal eviction moratoriums through January, CNBC continued.
The proposal does not include stimulus checks.
CNBC noted that the group did not fully sign off on a separate proposal tailored toward addressing the divide over liability protections and state and local government funding.
“The full bipartisan group did not sign off on a separate piece of the proposal that addresses liability protections for businesses and state and local government relief — two issues that have repeatedly blocked progress toward a deal,” the outlet said.
The bipartisan group is now encouraging lawmakers to pass the bill as it is or use it as a blueprint for the next package.