Politics

Republicans, Democrats reach compromise over Covid-19 stimulus package

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2020.
Erin Scott | Reuters

Senior lawmakers reached a compromise over the Federal Reserve's emergency lending powers late Saturday night, overcoming a major hurdle that prevented Congress from completing a $900 billion coronavirus relief package earlier in the week, according to multiple sources.

A last-minute roadblock emerged on Friday as Democrats accused Republicans, namely Pennsylvania's Sen. Pat Toomey, of attempting to encumber the incoming Biden administration by cutting off the Federal Reserve's emergency lending abilities created by the CARES Act meant to protect the already battered economy.

"Now that Democrats have agreed to a version of Sen. Toomey's important language, we can begin closing out the rest of the package to deliver much-needed relief to families, workers, and businesses," a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told NBC News.

Compromise language is being finalized and any open items are expected to be worked out overnight, according to two aides.

A spokesperson for Toomey called the agreement an "unqualified victory for taxpayers."

"Senate Republicans achieved all four of our objectives regarding the CARES Act Federal Reserve lending programs," Toomey spokesperson Steve Kelly said.

"This agreement rescinds more than $429 billion in unused CARES Act funds; definitively ends the CARES Act lending facilities by Dec. 31, 2020, stops these facilities from being restarted, and forbids them from being duplicated without congressional approval. This agreement will preserve Fed independence and prevent Democrats from hijacking these programs for political and social policy purposes," Kelly added.

Congressional leaders settled on a framework midweek that was expected to include a $300 federal unemployment bonus, a new round of direct payments, small business funding and money to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.

The House had already advised votes as early as 1 p.m. Sunday.