Senate on cusp of coronavirus stimulus deal after agreements in key areas

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are on the cusp of a deal for a massive coronavirus stimulus package after settling disagreements over relief for the airline industry, beefed-up unemployment benefits and money for hospitals.

Democratic senators participated in a briefing call Monday night on the latest developments in the negotiations, and a vote is expected as soon as Tuesday.

Schumer provided an optimistic update on the Senate floor after his fourth meeting of the day with Mnuchin, which ended shortly before 9 p.m.

“Secretary Mnuchin just left my office. We have had some very good discussions, and in fact the list of outstanding issues has narrowed significantly,” he said, promising to “work on into the night.”

In a key concession to the administration, Democrats have agreed to $25 billion in grants to U.S. airlines and $4 billion for cargo air carriers, according to text excerpt of the emerging deal. 

Schumer is still waiting on written language from Mnuchin limiting stock buybacks and executive compensation for companies that accept billions of dollars in assistance from U.S. taxpayers. 

Republicans want to limit executive compensation based on 2019 earnings, a lucrative year for corporate America, while Democrats want the limit based on a multiple of median worker salaries.

In a significant concession to Democrats, the emerging deal would provide bumped-up unemployment benefits for four months, a substantial increase over the three months of augmented unemployment benefits proposed by Republican negotiators, according to a person familiar with the briefing call. 

Republicans have also agreed to provide $100 billion in funding for hospitals, $25 billion more than the proposal drafted in recent days by Republicans on an emergency supplemental spending package, according to the source familiar with the call. 

The emerging deal would also provide $30 billion for care of people who fall ill from COVID-19.

The bill is also expected to provide $200 billion for various “domestic priorities.”

Republican scored a major victory by securing at least $500 billion for the Treasury Department to authorize more than $4 trillion in liquidity to distressed industries, which could provide a major boost to corporate balance sheets and financial markets. 

The money will be leveraged at a ratio of 10 to 1, giving the Fed broad ability to make loans.

Aside from finalizing language on stock buybacks and executive compensation, a few other issues need to be resolved.

Democrats on Monday’s briefing call were not given any update on whether the bill will address their concerns over language that would exclude Planned Parenthood from being eligible from receiving Small Business Administration assistance.   

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced on the Senate floor after the call that he believed the negotiators were close to a final agreement.

“I don’t like watching stem-winding speeches from the floor blaming who’s responsible for not being able to pass a vote when I know 20 yards away the White House is sitting down with Democrats and we’re getting closer and closer and closer … [to] a package that can gain bipartisan acceptance,” he said. 

Tags Charles Schumer Coronavirus Steven Mnuchin Stimulus Tim Kaine
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