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Negotiators still fighting behind the scenes on latest relief package

“The Senate, I hope, will vote it out today unanimously, unless somebody flies out to D.C. and blocks it,” he said Monday morning.

The deal would also provide at least $50 billion in loans for economic disaster aid, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing, while also including language singling out some of the Paycheck Protection Programs aid for small businesses to those businesses without access to large financial institutions — a key demand from Democrats.

Staffers for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated until midnight on Sunday, according to sources. But several issues remain open.

Democrats have not relented on demands for more money for state and local governments, despite Republicans insisting that is a red line in the current talks. Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told GOP senators on a call with President Donald Trump on Sunday that Democrats will get none of the $150 billion for local governments they requested.

And there are still outstanding issues related to funding for hospitals and testing.

Democrats are pushing for the federal government to spearhead a national testing strategy and want the administration to determine the number of tests each state receives. But Republicans want the states to make that decision on their own.

“The conversation isn’t about the numbers, it’s about policies under those numbers,” said a senior administration official.

The debate surrounding how to address testing comes as President Donald Trump and most congressional Republicans are pushing to reopen the economy soon. The economy continues to tumble, with more than 22 million Americans filing for unemployment claims in recent weeks. But members of both parties acknowledge that a testing shortage remains a serious impediment to reopening the economy.

Another major question: How will the Senate and House will pass any deal given they are still in recess amid the coronavirus pandemic? Any senator could demand a roll call vote and haul everyone back to Washington, though this is something leaders in both parties hope to avoid.

The House next meets in a pro forma session on Tuesday. But House leaders don’t expect to be able to pass the interim package via a simple voice vote — even if a deal has been clinched in the meantime.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has relayed to Democratic leadership that Republicans will likely demand a roll call vote. In preparation for that, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sent a note to lawmakers Sunday night alerting them of the possible need to travel to Washington this week.

The House could meet as early as Wednesday to vote on the interim package, according to Hoyer’s notice. Hoyer is expected to deliver a scheduling update during the House Democrats’ caucus call, set for Monday afternoon.

Many lawmakers are wary of returning to the Capitol, and there’s still heartburn over the last-minute scramble that happened in March after Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) demanded a roll call vote on the $1.8 trillion Phase 3 rescue package. Members on both sides of the aisle were fuming, both at Massie and at House leaders for giving them roughly 12-hour notice that they were needed in Washington.

Still, some House Republicans, frustrated over the slow pace of negotiations, have privately discussed returning to the Capitol this week in protest regardless of whether a vote is called.

Source: politico.com
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