McConnell says coronavirus relief package should be finalized tonight
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects lawmakers to have a final agreement on long-awaited coronavirus relief "nailed down in a matter of hours" during a speech on the Senate floor on Sunday.
"I believe I can speak for all sides when I say I hope and expect to have a final agreement nailed down in a matter of hours," McConnell said. "At this point we're down to the last few differences that stand between struggling Americans and their major rescue package they need and deserve."
"For months, literally months, Senate Republicans have been caling for another targeted package to reopen the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program, extend federal unemployment benefits, fund K-12 schools, fund vaccine disttibution and get a lot more help onto the front lines as fast as possible," he continued. "I'm relieved that we appear to be hours away from legislation that will finally do that."
Senators held talks on Capitol Hill late Saturday when Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., hit the Senate floor Saturday with a list of grievances on the $900 billion package.
But Fox News learned late Saturday that Toomey had agreed to compromise language from his initial proposal that would have prevented the Federal Reserve chairman from establishing federal lending programs similar to those set up in March to help credit markets function during massive U.S. economic shutdowns.
"These new emergency lending facilities were always intended to sunset at end of this year," McConnell said on Sunday. "Sen. Toomey and our Democratic colleagues have landed on compromise language that ensures this will, in fact, happen. It also redirects the dormant money in these accounts toward the urgent needs of working Americans and ensures that these expiring programs cannot be simply restarted or cloned without another authorization from Congress, all while preserving both the independence of the Federal Reserve and a proper authority of Congress."
The apparent compromise, following discussions between Toomey and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared to open a path to a final agreement on the coronavirus package.
The plan as of now is to load the $900 billion coronavirus bill onto a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending plan to fund the government through Sept. 30, 2021. Government funding runs out Sunday at 11:59:59 p.m. ET.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told "Fox News Sunday" that the deal is expected to include $600 checks to most Americans, covering adults and children, extended unemployment benefits, and additional paycheck protection loans for small businesses.
Soon after Fox News learned of the Toomey agreement, Schumer emerged from negotiations, saying a COVID deal was "very close" and it appeared both the House and Senate would be able to vote on legislation on Sunday.
The House Democratic leadership began meeting at 1 p.m. ET on a coronavirus bill, but there was no sense of when they may have the final text and go to the Rules Committee, which is the first step in the process.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer advised members that they should be ready to vote Sunday on a bill.
House Democrats passed their massive $3 trillion HEROES Act that Senate Republicans rejected in favor of a more targeted approach to helping American people and businesses.
Fox News' Caitlin McFall, Chad Pergram, Ronn Blitzer and Jason Donner contributed to this report.