Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Friday morning that a new stimulus package was on the verge of being finalized and that Congress would not break for the holidays until it is agreed upon.
“We’re extremely close to a stimulus deal,” said Jefferies, “We hope to be able to get this done, if not today, at some point tomorrow or over the weekend. We will remain in Washington for as long as it takes to provide the American people with the relief that they need.”
Jefferies told CNN that the details of the $900 billion deal to provide relief from a devastated but recovering economy as a result of lockdowns in the wake of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic were still being ironed out because they want it to be “meaningful, comprehensive, and continuing.”
According to Jefferies, Democrats are seeing this package as only a “down payment” to further financial assistance for the pandemic in 2021.
“We want to make sure that we obviously extend down unemployment insurance benefits, that we have direct payment checks to the American people, that we provide assistance for childcare needs, for housing needs, extend out the foreclosure and eviction moratorium, and also make sure that we’re dealing with the food insecurity issues that so many Americans across the country are confronting at this moment,” said Jefferies.
Jefferies mentioned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have also voiced optimism recently about reaching an agreement. He added that the government would not shut down, but may need to pass a short-term continuing resolution before the CCP virus package is agreed upon.
“There’s no circumstance where the government will shut down. If there is a need to pass a short-term 24 hour or so continuing resolution in order to allow the negotiations to come to a close, that will happen,” said Jefferies.
Speaking from the Senate floor Friday morning, McConnell said, “Our bipartisan discussions are continuing to make significant headway toward another relief package for the American people.”
McConnell has previously said the Senate won’t adjourn until a deal is reached on CCP virus relief.
“We’re not leaving here without a COVID package,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”
“I’ve been saying it for weeks, and you’ve been listening to me saying for weeks, let’s put aside the things we can’t agree on and do the things we can,” he said, noting that the most divisive issues are liability protections for businesses and organizations, as well as aid to state and local governments.
Meanwhile, Pelosi spoke with President Donald Trump’s top negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, by phone on Dec. 15 for about 20 minutes and included talk on COVID-19 aid, her spokesperson said. He said both sides acknowledged the urgency of reaching a final agreement on relief this week, although differences remain on liability provisions and providing money to state and local governments.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.