Path Cleared For $900 Billion COVID-19 Relief Package As Fed Compromise Is Reached

Sen. Pat Toomey dropped his demand for sharp restrictions on emergency Fed powers.

Lawmakers grew significantly closer to a final agreement on a COVID-19 stimulus package late Saturday as a conflict over the Federal Reserve was resolved, a Democratic aide told HuffPost.

The disagreement appeared to be the only remaining barrier to finalizing the $900 billion deal before a Sunday night deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) finally agreed late Saturday to drop the broad language in his proposal that would have strictly curbed Federal Reserve emergency powers to launch lending facilities. The Fed used those powers in March to provide loans to small and midsize businesses, and to buy state and local government bonds to aid the economy. The compromise would give the central bank more flexibility to respond to economic calamities.

Compromise language was being finalized late Saturday after a day of back-and-forth arguing between Toomey and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“If things continue on this path, and nothing gets in the way, we’ll be able to vote tomorrow,” Schumer told reporters as he left the Capitol just before midnight. “House and Senate.”

House leaders notified lawmakers to expect votes as soon as early Sunday afternoon, The New York Times reported.

The deal being finalized would send direct payments of $600 to many Americans, and would give the jobless a $300-a-week bonus federal unemployment benefit. It would also provide hundreds of billions of dollars for small businesses, schools and other institutions facing hardship amid the pandemic.

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