The goal is to reach a deal Saturday that can be endorsed by the so-called four corners of Congress — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — and finish drafting the bill language over the weekend.
Whether congressional leaders can reach a deal Saturday and can pass it before Sunday night when government funding expires remains a major question.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune warned on Saturday that the effort to finalize a deal could spill over into Monday.
“I’m still somewhat hopeful we could wrap this up if the House moves quickly and we got it, take it up, and do it tomorrow night, but I would say it’s also very possible that it rolls into Monday,” he said.
The ambitious goal set out by the leadership is this, aides told CNN: They want to reach a deal sometime Saturday so the House Rules Committee could meet Sunday morning and get it ready for the House floor Sunday afternoon or evening. It would then need support of all 100 senators to schedule a vote by Sunday night in the Senate. They may not reach that goal but that’s the intention.
The big hangup is a dispute over whether to rein in the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority. Republicans argue that the emergency lending program created under the March CARES law needs to be wound down as envisioned by that law, saying leaving it open would amount to a slush fund for the incoming Biden administration.
But Democrats argue that the authority is essential to continue to prop up the economy and say that the provision — pushed chiefly by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — would tie the hands of President-elect Joe Biden’s team.
After meeting with Schumer, Toomey signaled he thinks they’ll be able to reach an agreement on the controversial provision that’s held up relief talks, saying, “I think we should be able to get a deal done.”
But he added, “I don’t know what the time frame of it is.”
Earlier on Saturday, the two sides had appeared to be dug in over the issue.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told GOP senators on a conference call that they still have not resolved the fight over whether to pare back the emergency lending programs of the Federal Reserve, according to a source on the call.
On a caucus call, Pelosi told Democrats that the main obstacle is the language pushed by Toomey to pare back the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority. She said there are other outstanding issues but that remains the biggest one, a source familiar with the call told CNN.
Pelosi said when she arrived at the Capitol that “the plan” is to arrive at a deal today, but first they need to resolve the “significant difference” over the Federal Reserve funding issues.
“We had this big issue, a last, kind of, minute thing with Mr. Toomey. And that has to be resolved. And then everything will fall into place. But that’s the big thing,” she said.
Schumer similarly zeroed in on…
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