McConnell: Top congressional leaders make ‘major headway’ on COVID-19 relief deal

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said congressional leaders have made “major headway” on finalizing a coronavirus relief bill.

“We remain committed to continuing these urgent discussions until we have an agreement,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said. “We will not leave town until we’ve made law.”

He told reporters that he was optimistic about reaching a deal soon and that the leadership negotiations were “making good progress.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer was also optimistic

“It’s not a done deal yet. But we are very close,” the New York Democrat said.

No deal has been completely finalized or publicly announced yet, but negotiators are close to a deal with an approximately $900 billion price tag, including stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, South Dakota Republican, told reporters he expects the direct payments to be around $600 or $700 for individuals and “double that for families and kids,” as well as the boosted unemployment payments to be around $300 a week.

Liability protections and state and local government funding — the two most contentious issues — were not included in the deal, but Democrats have found other avenues to secure the aid they were hoping to get to those smaller governments.

But two sources familiar with the deal stressed that conversations and negotiations are still ongoing, meaning the final product could shift.

The deal was first reported by Politico.

Several aspects of the potential deal were confirmed by Sen. Joe Manchin on CNN “New Day” Wednesday morning, as he praised the bipartisan $908 billion compromise he helped construct as helping to move the needle.

“We were able to break the gridlock,” the West Virginia Democrat said. “The gridlock was really how much money.”

The optimism comes after the “Four Corners” — Mr. McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — worked late into the night Tuesday to work on an omnibus and coronavirus relief deal.

The goal for lawmakers is to attach the COVID-19 relief to the massive $1.4 trillion government funding package that needs to be passed by Friday or extended with another short-term stopgap funding measure.

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