Politics

No Deal Yet For Massive Coronavirus Aid Package

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives on Capitol Hill to attend a meeting to discuss a potential economic bill in response to the coronavirus on March 20, 2020.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives on Capitol Hill to attend a meeting to discuss a potential economic bill in response to the coronavirus on March 20, 2020.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 2:53 p.m. ET

Top congressional leaders said Sunday they have not yet reached an agreement on the latest — and largest — coronavirus response bill, but they plan to keep negotiating in hopes of finishing a package before a Senate vote that's set for Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters there is still no deal, after a meeting with the four top congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"We'll be introducing our own bill," Pelosi told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the Senate bill, which was fine-tuned in bipartisan talks over the past two days, needs to be passed as is.

"It is thoroughly bipartisan, as our process demands; now what we need to do is to move forward," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "This national crisis is not going to wait around if Congress slips back into conventional politics or haggles endlessly over the finer points."

The package in question is larger than two others that have passed in terms of size and scope, with some negotiators floating a price tag of $1 trillion. McConnell pressured Democrats to accept the plan, even as Democrats were circulating concerns with the legislation.

Among the issues still to be resolved are restrictions on loans made to large corporations, like airlines, according to a source familiar with the talks. Democrats say the legislation does not include sufficient protections to prevent stock buybacks and make sure that workers keep jobs. Democrats have also called for further protections against executive raises and bonuses, and are criticizing a provision that would give Mnuchin broad discretion to waive some compensation rules.

Democrats are calling the corporate funding a "$500 billion corporate slush fund." They are also calling for the legislation to include additional unemployment funding, expanded food stamps benefits and more student loan relief, among other demands.

McConnell told reporters that the Senate will still move forward.

"What we intend to do here in the Senate is to move forward with the Senate bill," McConnell said at a press conference Sunday. "Make no mistake about it, we'll be voting tomorrow. The wheel has to stop at some point."

The Senate will move ahead with a scheduled procedural vote Sunday afternoon on what is known as a shell bill. It is a placeholder that, if passed, will allow the Senate to dispense with necessary waiting and debate periods required by Senate rules.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed into law an $8 billion coronavirus response package, which boosted funding for testing of the virus and lowered costs for related medical treatments. A second measure, signed into law last week, provides paid sick and family leave for some U.S. workers impacted by the illness, expands unemployment assistance, and increases resources for testing.

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