Congress Inching Toward Deal That Includes Stimulus Checks
Progress is reported on a new round of coronavirus relief talks, as lawmakers face a Friday night government shutdown deadline.
The Washington Post:
Stimulus Checks Are Back In The $900 Billion Relief Package As Congressional Leaders Near Deal
Congressional leaders said Wednesday that they are nearing agreement on a roughly $900 billion economic relief package that would include a second round of stimulus checks and could be completed by the end of this week. The package emerging is expected to include hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for ailing small businesses and jobless Americans; tens of billions of dollars in aid for other critical needs, such as vaccine distribution and schools; and a one-time check of between $600 and $700 for millions of Americans below a certain income threshold. (Stein, DeBonis and Min Kim, 12/16)
McConnell Getting Much Of What He Wants In Emerging Relief Deal
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is getting much of what he wants in an emerging coronavirus relief package, after months of digging in his heels against a demand by Democratic leaders to pass a multi-trillion-dollar package that would shore up the ailing finances of state and local governments. The GOP leader isn’t getting liability protection for businesses and other organizations but McConnell himself last week proposed dropping that controversial item along with another large tranche of funding for state and local government. (Bolton and Wong, 12/17)
Biden Says Approaching Coronavirus Relief Deal Would Be A 'Down Payment'
President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday commended the latest progress toward a bipartisan coronavirus relief package but described it as a “down payment” on what will ultimately need to be enacted early next year. “The stimulus package is encouraging. It looks like they are very, very close and it looks like there’s going to be direct cash payments,” Biden told reporters Wednesday in Wilmington, Del. “But it’s a down payment, an important down payment on what’s going to have to be done beginning the end of January into February, but it’s very important it get done.” (Chalfant, 12/16)
As Congress Bickers Over Pandemic Relief, Flight Attendant’s Life Is In A Holding Pattern
Troy Muenzer has seen the damage that COVID can do. A flight attendant who was diagnosed with a “suspected” case of the deadly virus, Muenzer, 32, endured months of lingering breathing problems; hefty, unexpected medical bills; lost wages, then furlough; and, earlier this month, the loss of his health insurance. Last week, his bank account was hacked, causing him to lie awake one night worrying he wouldn’t be able to get back all that 2020 has taken. “From everything that’s happened this year, it just seems like it’s never-ending,” he said. (Huetteman, 12/17)
In other news from Capitol Hill —
Oklahoma GOP Lawmaker Says He Will Introduce Bill To Criminalize And End All Abortions In The State
An Oklahoma GOP lawmaker announced plans Wednesday to introduce a bill criminalizing abortion in the state. Republican State Sen. Warren Hamilton said in a statement he plans to file the bill, titled the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act/Equal Protection and Equal Justice Act, according to local ABC affiliate KOCO News. (Deese, 12/16)
South Carolina Republican Tests Positive For Coronavirus Hours After Speaking On House Floor
South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson (R) on Wednesday announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after speaking on the House floor about the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed and the beginnings of vaccine distribution across the country. “Earlier this evening I learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Wilson said in a statement Wednesday. “I will be taking all necessary precautions, as directed by the House Physician, including quarantining through the Christmas holiday.” (Castronuovo, 12/16)