Trump demands Congress agree to a COVID relief bill as Dems break impasse with GOP Senator Toomey over Federal Reserve funding - paving the way for $900B package to be passed ahead of Sunday night deadline and shutdown

 President Donald Trump has demanded that Congress provide the American people with direct aid in a stimulus bill as negotiations appeared to produce a breakthrough early Sunday, potentially paving the way for a vote on the almost $1trillion aid package.

The president tweeted just after midnight Sunday, questioning why Congressional leaders have not been able to find a compromise on a package for coronavirus relief. 

 'Why isn’t Congress giving our people a Stimulus Bill? It wasn’t their fault, it was the fault of China. GET IT DONE, and give them more money in direct payments,' the president tweeted.

His demand came just after Democratic leaders agreed to compromise language over a provision in the bill over the Federal Reserve's emergency lending powers. 

Lawmakers on both sides said a provision by Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, that would curb emergency Federal Reserve powers was the sticking point.  

However, a Washington Post reporter tweeted late Saturday that the 'Toomey language issue has been resolved' and 'compromise language was accepted by (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer earlier this evening, paving way for finalization' of the broader aid package.  

McConnell: 'People have waited too long for a second relief package'
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Republicans and Democrats have been at an impasse in talks over a nearly $1trillion COVID-19 relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (left) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) are pictured above

The dispute revolves around a Republican demand to curtail emergency lending powers of the Federal Reserve. The image above shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (left) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (right) on Capitol Hill on December 2

The dispute revolves around a Republican demand to curtail emergency lending powers of the Federal Reserve. The image above shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (left) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (right) on Capitol Hill on December 2

Trump tweeted early Sunday, demanding Congress provide direct aid to Americans

Trump tweeted early Sunday, demanding Congress provide direct aid to Americans

"We´re getting very close, very close," Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier Saturday as he spent much of the day going back and forth with GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. 

Toomey had been pressing a provision to close down Fed lending facilities that Democrats and the White House said was too broadly worded and would have tied the hands of the incoming Biden administration. 

Toomey defended his controversial provision in a floor speech, saying the emergency powers were designed to stabilize capital markets at the height of the COVID panic this spring and are expiring at the end of the month anyway. 

The language would block the Biden administration from restarting them.

Even Toomey said this week that his provision 'could be seen as redundant,' but neither he nor his Democratic adversaries were backing down from the fight, though compromise language was being shuttled back and forth.

At issue are Fed emergency programs, launched amid the pandemic this spring, that provided loans to small and mid-size businesses and bought state and local government bonds. 

Those bond purchases have made it easier for those governments to borrow, at a time when their finances are under pressure from job losses and health costs stemming from the pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last month that those programs, along with two that purchased corporate bonds, would close at the end of the year, prompting an initial objection by the Fed. 

Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed after the Great Recession, the Fed can only set up emergency programs with the support of the treasury secretary.

But in Mnuchin's letter closing the programs, he said the Fed could request that future treasury secretaries renew them. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell echoed that view Wednesday at a news conference. 

Yet Toomey's language would bar the Fed from doing so.

Lawmakers on both sides said a provision by Senator Pat Toomey (pictured), a Republican from Pennsylvania, that would curb emergency Federal Reserve powers was the sticking point. Republicans are insisting on the Toomey plan, while Democrats are adamantly against it

Lawmakers on both sides said a provision by Senator Pat Toomey (pictured), a Republican from Pennsylvania, that would curb emergency Federal Reserve powers was the sticking point. Republicans are insisting on the Toomey plan, while Democrats are adamantly against it

That prompted a rare statement Saturday from former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who oversaw a dramatic expansion of the Fed's emergency lending during the Great Recession, which most economists credit with helping end the financial crisis.

It is 'vital that the Federal Reserve's ability to respond promptly to damaging disruptions in credit markets not be circumscribed,' Bernanke said. 

'The relief act should ensure, at least, that the Federal Reserve's emergency lending authorities, as they stood before the passage of the CARES Act (in March), remain fully intact and available to respond to future crises.'

Democrats in Congress also say that Toomey is trying to limit the Fed's ability to boost the economy, just as Biden takes office.

'This is about existing authorities that the Fed has had for a very long time, to be able to use in an emergency,' said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

'It's about a lending authority for helping small businesses, state government, local government in the middle of a crisis.'

Toomey disputed that charge, saying his proposal 'is emphatically not a broad overhaul of the Federal Reserve´s emergency lending authority.'

The massive package would wrap much of Capitol Hill´s unfinished 2020 business into a take-it-or-leave-it measure that promised to be a foot thick or more. House lawmakers would probably have only a few hours to study it before voting as early as Sunday night.

A Senate vote would follow, possibly on Monday. One more short-term funding bill would be needed to avoid the looming deadline - or a partial shutdown of non-essential agencies would start on Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (pictured), the Democrat from New York, has been meeting with Toomey to discuss compromise proposals

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (pictured), the Democrat from New York, has been meeting with Toomey to discuss compromise proposals

The $900billion package comes as the pandemic is delivering its most fearsome surge yet, killing more than 3,000 victims per day and straining the health care system. 

While vaccines are on the way, most people won't get them for months.

Jobless claims are on the rise.

The emerging agreement would deliver more than $300billion in aid to businesses and provide the jobless a $300-per-week bonus federal unemployment benefit and renewal of state benefits that would otherwise expire right after Christmas. 

It includes $600 direct payments to individuals; vaccine distribution funds and money for renters, schools, the Postal Service and people needing food aid.

It would be the first significant legislative response to the pandemic since the landmark CARES Act passed virtually unanimously in March, delivering $1.8trillion in aid, more generous $600 per week bonus jobless benefits and $1,200 direct payments to individuals.

The new relief aid would be added to a $1.4trillion governmentwide appropriations bill that would fund agencies through next September. 

That measure is likely to provide a last $1.4billion installment for Trump's US-Mexico border wall as a condition of winning his signature.

Trump demands Congress agree to a COVID relief bill as Dems break impasse with GOP Senator Toomey over Federal Reserve funding - paving the way for $900B package to be passed ahead of Sunday night deadline and shutdown Trump demands Congress agree to a COVID relief bill as Dems break impasse with GOP Senator Toomey over Federal Reserve funding - paving the way for $900B package to be passed ahead of Sunday night deadline and shutdown Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:08 Rating: 5

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