Coronavirus stimulus talks face make-or-break moment

Negotiations over a mammoth coronavirus stimulus package are going down to the wire as lawmakers remain stuck in a stalemate over several key provisions.

The top four congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE will meet for the first time on Sunday to try to break the impasse ahead of a crucial 3 p.m. vote in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (R-Ky.) will need Democratic support to move forward.

Despite days of around-the-clock negotiations on the stimulus legislation, which is expected to cost between $1.5 and $2 trillion, a deal has remained elusive.

ADVERTISEMENT

Senators blew past two deadlines that McConnell set for a deal: midnight Saturday and then 5 p.m.

Instead, Republicans drafted the massive stimulus package to reflect agreements that they had with Democrats that had been reached and said they would write other provisions, where there were disagreements, in a way that they thought could garner bipartisan support.

The decision sparked concerns from Democrats that McConnell could be preparing to jam them with a bill they haven’t signed off on.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) indicated that there were issues that still needed to be resolved as she walked into the leadership meeting.

“From my perspective, we’re apart;” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (D-N.Y.) did not say on Sunday if he could support the GOP bill as drafted.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We need a bill that puts workers first, not corporations,” Schumer said.

Senate Democrats will meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday to discuss the stimulus package.

A spokesman for Schumer stressed late Sunday night that there was not an agreement, and that Democrats would not just accept the proposal put forward by McConnell.

“We look forward to reviewing their first draft and negotiating a bipartisan compromise," the spokesman said.

A Democratic aide said while they had made progress, "there's certainly no final agreement."

There are broad areas of agreement that reflect the breakneck pace of negotiations this week.

In a win for Democrats the bill will provide $250 billion to expand unemployment insurance. It gives $350 billion for small businesses that will cover 58 million American workers and more than 30 million small businesses, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Human rights groups sound alarm over Interpol election MORE (R-Fla.) tweeted on Sunday.

Mnuchin also said during a “Fox News Sunday” interview that the bill will provide an “average direct deposit or check for a family of four will be approximately $3,000 — a bridge for them to get through this quickly.”

But there are also several provisions in the bill that could spark Democratic pushback.

A source familiar with the GOP bill text said Republicans are “refusing to add strong worker protections” and have included language requiring companies keep employees  “to the extent possible.”

Democrats worry the language is vague enough that corporations could take federal help and still fire workers.

The GOP bill, according to the source, also increases a “corporate bailout fund” to $500 billion. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoSenate GOP threatens to block defense bill    Republican Senators request military aid for Taiwan amid pressure from China Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks MORE (R-Idaho) had pushed to increase the $208 billion proposed in the original GOP plan to ensure distressed industries have access to capital.

ADVERTISEMENT

A Democratic aide confirmed the change, characterizing the bill as currently drafted as a “non-starter.”

“We cannot stop Republicans and the Trump administration from behaving irresponsibly, but we can block irresponsible legislation that is a giveaway to Trump’s favored industries at the expense of working Americans,” the aide added.

Democrats also wanted strong restrictions on corporations who take federal help, but the source said the GOP bill included “very weak” stock buyback restrictions that could be waived by Mnuchin.

The unresolved sticking points come as McConnell has set an aggressive schedule for the Senate to pass the stimulus package.

He told reporters on Saturday evening that he would move forward with an initial procedural vote set for 3 p.m. on Sunday and wants to pass the bill on Monday — something that would require consent from all 100 senators. If McConnell isn’t able to get cooperation, the bill could face days of procedural hurdles that could delay passage until late in the week. 

“We’re going to be able to produce a bipartisan agreement,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mnuchin was equally optimistic during his interview Fox News on Sunday saying he “hoped” the bill could pass the Senate on Monday.

“We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy,” he added. “I think the president has every expectation that this is going to look a lot better four or eight weeks from now.”

--This report was updated at 11:59 a.m.