WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate hurried to complete an agreement on a $ 1 trillion bill aimed at curbing the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic for workers, industries and small businesses .
But after a second day of closed marathon negotiations, there was no sign of a global agreement between the negotiators, despite republican statements of a bipartisan agreement on specific issues including unemployment insurance and assistance to small businesses.
“The last two days of intense bipartisan talks are very close to a resolution,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he intends to vote to approve the sprawling package Monday. He said he asked committee chairs to produce the final language for the bill by the end of Saturday.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that he expects the final legislative package to be worth $ 1.3 trillion to $ 1.4 trillion to combat the effects of a health crisis that many fear will lead to a spike in unemployment while businesses close and the economy falters.
Combined with actions taken by the Federal Reserve and the administration, the future bill would have a net impact of $ 2 trillion dollars on a U.S. economy facing a strong headwind generated by the epidemic, according to officials at the White House.
Republican Senator Mike Crapo, who chairs the Senate banking committee, said the legislation could contain $ 300 billion to $ 500 billion in stabilization funds that the Federal Reserve could use as the basis for much larger liquidity infusions for businesses. of all sizes and configurations.
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who met twice on Saturday with Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, agreed that progress was being made. “I am optimistic that we can get a deal. We will continue to work all night,” the New York Democrat told reporters.
Lawmakers on both sides said they were close to or almost agreed on proposals to provide at least $ 350 billion in assistance to small businesses and to improve unemployment insurance coverage for people rendered unemployed by the epidemic.
Democrats insisted that all workers with coronavirus receive full compensation for four months. “We didn’t punctuate i and crossed i.” But conceptually, I think we’re there, “Schumer told CNN.
Democrats have also called for a $ 100 billion “Marshall Plan” for US hospitals to pay for protective equipment, equipment such as fans, beds and other doctors and nurses.
“I suspect that by tomorrow we will have a bill that will have important democratic priorities, significant republican priorities and we hope to pass it on Monday morning,” Republican Senator Lamar Alexander told reporters.
Major U.S. airlines and their unions also called on Congress to include federal cash grants to support the sector’s wages. But their motive did not seem to find support from the senators or the administration.
Future legislation already includes $ 58 billion in loans and loan guarantees for passenger airlines and air carriers.
Republican lawmakers said the bill will also include a funding response to the Trump administration’s request for $ 45.8 billion in extra funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Veterans Administration and the Department of defence.
Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reports by Eric Beech and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Mary Milliken and Christopher Cushing