Congress likely to work on COVID relief through the weekend

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 25: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivers remarks during the Weekly Senate Policy Luncheon Press Conference on June 25, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 2:30 PM PT – Thursday, December 17, 2020

Lawmakers are gearing up to potentially work on stimulus negotiations through the weekend.

Earlier Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the upper chamber will remain on Capitol Hill until a deal is reached.

McConnell also noted that at the urging of President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Senate is backing direct checks to Americans with bonuses for families with children.

According to reports, the Senate will also repurpose $400 billion in unused CARES Act funding for the struggling economy.

Additionally, McConnell called out lawmakers who have treated the stimulus as a partisan ploy.

As the 11th hour closes in on Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats are hopeful a stimulus agreement will be made in the coming days.

In an interview on Thursday, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) discussed what they expect will be included in the $900 billion relief package.

Portman said he is skeptical about the full bill passing by the deadline, but noted a short-term solution could be made by Friday to resolve the continuing resolution.

He added lawmakers should reach an agreement this weekend.

“It’s been nine months since we passed the CARES package,” Portman stated. “People are hurting and…this is an emergency package to get us through the next few months, through the March-April timeframe, until we turn the corner on this crisis.”

Meanwhile, Manchin said the current emergency relief bill contains aspects both sides are happy with.

Representatives from the lower chamber, Tom Reed (R-Ohio) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), also discussed the remaining discrepancies in the impending package.

Gottheimer mentioned Capitol Hill is “practically completely in agreement” and lawmakers are inches away from sealing the deal. He added Congress must help struggling Americans, but Reed pointed out his Democrat colleagues do not agree with giving businesses liability protections.

“We’ve heard from universities, health workers, and small businesses that if we don’t take care of liability,” Reed said. “We’re going to be right back into this problem of ‘We tried to do everything we could in good faith, and now we’re getting lawsuits already filed against us for things we had no control over.’”

Reed also argued lawmakers have to take extra steps to protect the country because COVID-19 is a novel virus.

Both representatives are determined to prevent a government shutdown and get a stimulus bill passed by the end of the day Friday.

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