Senate Democrats and the White House appear to have agreed on some of the last sticking points holding up a nearly $2-trillion stimulus bill, including adding greater oversight of a $500-billion fund to shore up struggling companies, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) announced Tuesday morning.
Pelosi said a deal on the stimulus bill, meant to help individuals, hospitals and businesses respond to the coronavirus outbreak, could be made shortly.
"I think there is real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours," Pelosi said on CNBC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also indicated that a resolution was close.
"I believe we are on the five-yard line. It's taken a lot of noise, a lot of rhetoric to get us here," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "I hope today is the day this body will get it done."
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) negotiated through the night to resolve outstanding issues. A vote on the deal could come as soon as Tuesday.
Even after the unusually bitter partisan bickering Monday on the Senate floor, Mnuchin and Schumer maintained that they were getting close to a deal. The men told reporters at midnight Monday just a few differences were left to resolve, and negotiations resumed shortly before Pelosi spoke Tuesday morning.
Pelosi cautioned on CNBC that all sides still need to agree before the Senate can vote. House members have not returned from their scheduled recess, and remote voting is not allowed under House rules. Pelosi indicated that the fastest way for the House to approve the Senate bill is by using unanimous consent, which requires the support of every House member, rather than recalling all 430 representatives to Washington.
"I think we're getting to a good place, if they stay there," Pelosi said. "We think the bill has moved sufficiently to the side of workers."
The bill is expected to include direct cash payments to many American families, loans to businesses and an expansion of unemployment insurance and other aspects of the social safety net. It comes at a time when millions of Americans have been asked to stay away from school and work, and remain inside their homes to reduce the spread of the disease.
Among the changes to the final bill is increased congressional oversight of a $500-billion fund managed by the Treasury to shore up struggling businesses through loans and loan guarantees. The initial deal left it to the Treasury to disburse the funds, and gave it discretion not to disclose which companies got taxpayer dollars for up to six months.
Pelosi said the deal now includes an inspector general to oversee the $500 billion, as well as a congressional panel of five people.
"That's a big change," she said.
Others in the negotiations have said the deal also includes billions of dollars more for hospitals and healthcare providers dealing with a shortage in medical masks, ventilators and hospital beds.