Hoyer eyes 'optimistic' quick turnaround for potential coronavirus relief bill by next week

Hoyer eyes 'optimistic' quick turnaround for potential
coronavirus relief bill by next week 1

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that he’s hoping to have a vote on a coronavirus relief bill before the end of next week, if party leaders can iron out a deal in time.

Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said that he’s spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who — though unsure it can be done — agrees lawmakers have a tiny window to get something done before the Christmas break.

Ideally, Mr. Hoyer said, if a deal is going to be passed, it should be on paper by the end of this weekend and have a vote in the House by Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Part of that ideal time frame is a desire from leadership to get lawmakers back home in time to quarantine and be with families before Christmas.

“I’m hopeful that in the next few days that we will be able to come to an agreement on a bill that responds to the major crisis is, at least in the short term,” Mr. Hoyer told reporters on a press call. “I know that sounds very optimistic. But in light of the COVID crisis that confronts us, I’m hopeful that members will come to grips with decision making.”

“There’s no magic about another week. And [McConnell] agreed on that,” he said.

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However, there’s a lot of ground for lawmakers to make up if there’s any hope of meeting that deadline — with several competing proposals floating around Capitol Hill.

Democrats have been keeping their asking price high at least $2.2 trillion, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer sent a “secret” proposal to GOP leadership this week, which was met with a cool reception.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, however, is pursuing a much more targeted approach that is similar to the $500 billion package put on the floor earlier this year and would extend enhanced unemployment benefits by one month, according to a leaked copy of the proposal.

There’s also a $908 billion framework introduced by a bipartisan group of senators and endorsed by the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus in the House.

Their proposal — which has gotten interest but no endorsements from party leaders — would provide $160 billion for state and local governments and $288 billion for small business assistance and the Paycheck Protection Program, along with short-term protections for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Wednesday that the president is willing to get behind the Senate GOP proposal, but wouldn’t comment on his opinions about the other two options.

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