The measure under discussion, which costs about $900 billion, is expected to include a second stimulus check, boosted unemployment benefits, additional funding for small businesses and another round of aid for the nation's beleaguered airline industry. The drafted proposal excludes two of the most contentious issues: funding for state and local governments, and a liability shield for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
While the four lawmakers are still hammering out the specific details of the stimulus package — and nothing will be finalized until the legislative text is released — Americans will likely receive less direct cash assistance than they did in the March CARES Act.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Wednesday the proposal would likely include direct checks to individuals of $600 to $700, about half the size of the payments included in the previous stimulus package that Congress passed.
"The federal aid package can't come a day too soon to mitigate job losses, declines in retail spending and a host of other measures that have headed down in the last two months," said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.
Under the CARES Act, Americans who earned less than $75,000 received a stimulus check worth $1,200, and dependents under the age of 17 received $500, meaning a family of five could receive up to $3,900. The payments were tapered for higher earners and cut off completely for individuals who earned more than $99,000.
A stimulus proposal introduced by the White House last week also included a one-time payment of $600, although President Trump has called for more money and has privately indicated that he would support sending a direct cash payment of up to $2,000, according to The Washington Post.
"Right now, I want to see checks – for more money than they're talking about – going to people," Trump said during an interview with Fox News' Brian Kilmeade that aired Sunday. "I'm pushing it very hard, and to be honest with you, if the Democrats really wanted to do the deal, they'd do the deal."
The top negotiators -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer -- said they had moved closer to striking a deal Wednesday, sounding more optimistic about the prospect of another round of emergency aid than they had in months.
But the lawmakers are running out of time to attach the $900 billion deal to a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending deal, which needs to pass by Friday in order to prevent a government shutdown at midnight. That gives leaders just a few days to finalize the aid package and spending bill, approve them in both chambers and send to Trump's desk for his signature.
McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday that it was "highly likely" lawmakers would need to work through the weekend and suggested they may have to pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown for a "very, very short, short window of time."
"Let's make a law as soon as possible," he said. "That's what our people deserve."