Democrats on Friday came out swinging at a provision by conservative Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would close down more than $400 billion in potential Federal Reserve lending powers established under a relief bill in March. Pelosi told reporters Saturday that negotiations over that language are the biggest remaining hurdle.
“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. And that’s thing that’s harmful to our economy, and pushing back an agreement on this,” Pelosi told reporters as she walked into the Capitol.
This is a breaking news update. A previous version of this report is below.
The Fed programs at issue provided loans to small and mid-sized businesses and bought state and local government bonds, making it easier for those governments to borrow, at a time when their finances are under pressure from the pandemic.
Negotiators reported continued progress on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package on Saturday, with optimism rising that the overdue talks would soon produce an agreement. The Senate convened a Saturday session, while House members stood by for a vote that will arrive no earlier than Sunday.
A new government shutdown of midnight Sunday was serving as a backstop for the tortuous negotiations, which were being conducted in secret largely among the top four leaders of Capitol Hill’s warring tribes.
A key negotiator said the talks continued in good faith.
“But the American people cannot feed their families or pay their bills with Congress’ good faith discussions,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate GOP faction. “We need to conclude our talks, draft legislation, and land this plane.”
The massive package would wrap much of Capitol Hill’s unfinished 2020 business into a take-it-or-leave-it behemoth that promises to be a foot thick or more. House lawmakers will probably have only a few hours to study it before voting as early as Sunday afternoon. A Senate vote would follow, and another stopgap funding bill will likely be needed to avoid a shutdown at midnight Sunday.
The House passed Friday’s temporary funding bill by a 320-60 vote. The Senate approved it by voice vote almost immediately afterward, and President Donald Trump signed it late Friday.
McConnell didn’t give an update on the talks, but a remaining issue involves an effort by Republican conservatives to rein in emergency Federal Reserve lending powers. Democrats said the GOP proposal would deprive President-elect Joe Biden of crucial tools to manage the economy.
An agreement in principle Saturday would be a precursor to more…
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