The White House and Congress successfully reached a deal on a massive spending bill designed to soften the blow of the coronavirus pandemic early Wednesday morning, CNN reports. The deal will provide a jolt to an economy struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are done," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said right before 1 a.m. ET after leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office following negotiations that started last Friday. "We have a deal." McConnell formally announced the agreement on the Senate floor, saying, "At last, we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic."
McConnell said that as a "war-time level of investment for our nation," the Senate would move to pass it later in the day on Wednesday. The Senate will re-convene at noon, though an exact time has not yet been set for the vote.
On Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she was optimistic progress could be made after partisan arguments blocked previous versions of the bill from passing on Sunday and Monday. "There is real optimism we could get something done in the next few hours," Pelosi told CNBC at the time. "I think we're on a good track."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Seven Mnuchin appeared to be nearing a deal on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus package to help American workers and businesses survive the pandemic. Mnuchin and several White House officials met with Schumer on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to wrap up the outstanding issues. McConnell said he believes the possible agreement had reached "the 5-yard line."
"It's taken a lot of noise and a lot of rhetoric to get us here," he said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning as negotiations resumed. Those negotiations resulted in the inclusion of unemployment insurance and a huge increase to funds for hospitals, two Democratic aides and one Republican aide told NBC News.
Pelosi said that a number of the Democrats' requests have been added to the bill, including provisions that would require both a congressional panel and an inspector general to provide oversight over a $500 billion loan program to corporations.
Emerging from negotiations just before midnight on Monday, Mnuchin and Schumer told reporters separately that they had made progress and that just a few points were left to iron out. "I think we've made a lot of progress," Mnuchin told reporters Monday night on Capitol Hill. "There's still a couple of open issues, but I think we're very hopeful that this can be closed out."