Senior lawmakers appear to have reached a key comprise on the last major hurdle for a nearly $1 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, clearing the path for a vote as early as Sunday, per a senior Democratic aide who was not authorized to speak publicly about negotiations.
Senators deadlocked over the Republicans’ insistence a provision ending certain emergency Federal Reserve powers be included in the bill. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., defended his provision on the Senate floor Saturday, saying the Federal Reserve powers in question “did their job, their function,” and were set to end at the end of the year. His provision was not an attempt to “hamstring” the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, he said, noting a new Congress could simply pass another bill on the issue. After all-day talks with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Toomey agreed to drop the broad language in his proposal that would have prevented the Fed Chair from establishing similar facilities in the future to the ones created in March.
Compromise language is being finalized and, now that this obstacle has been cleared, a final agreement on an emergency relief package is significantly closer.“We’re getting very close, very close,” Schumer said earlier Saturday as he spent much of the day going back and forth with Toomey. The roughly $900 billion bill, lawmakers and aides say, would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefits and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, along with a fresh round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and funding for schools, health care providers, and renters facing eviction.
The Missouri House won’t be demanding investigations into election results in battleground states despite an effort backed by a majority of Republican members. State Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, filed a resolution earlier this month demanding inquiries into unproven allegations of fraud in six states critical to President Trump’s defeat last month, and quickly drew GOP support.
Sixty-six of 114 House Republicans signed the letter addressed to Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, asking him to allow them to consider the resolution before adjourning a special session called to deal with budget issues. Haahr obliged, and a committee led by Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, voted 6-3 to advance the measure Monday after tense debate and a cameo from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer. But the resolution still needed approval from the Rules Committee before it could go to a full House vote, and Rep. Rocky Miller, the committee chairman, declined to hold a hearing, citing cost concerns and the health risks of gathering for another meeting in Jefferson City amid the pandemic.
The resolution did not carry the force of law and could not make the other states do anything, but Hill said he was nevertheless disappointed in the outcome.