The compromise proposal was offered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. The group and their aides are expected to continue working to finalize legislation through the weekend.
Stimulus talks have been stalemated for months, with lawmakers unable to resolve differences over issues like the liability protections, a Republican demand that Democrats have resisted, and providing federal aid to state and local governments, a top priority for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. They are also still struggling to resolve a number of policy disputes in the must-pass bills needed to keep the government funded beyond Dec. 11.
The emerging compromise would revive lapsed federal unemployment benefits at $300 a week for 18 weeks, and provide billions of dollars in funding for small businesses, schools and the imminent distribution of a vaccine.
“What I have real concerns about is the American people thinking Congress struck a deal, we’re getting Covid relief, and then their lives changing very little,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Will I support resources to hospitals and schools and firefighters? Absolutely. But I am extremely concerned that it’s not going to solve the immediate problems that people have.”
Though Ms. Pelosi conceded there were still obstacles to an agreement, she insisted there would be “sufficient time” to close a deal before the Dec. 11 government funding deadline. She pointed to lower-than-expected job gains reported on Friday as an added accelerant.
“There is momentum. There is momentum,” Ms. Pelosi said. “I am pleased that the tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.”
After months of insisting she would not accept a slimmed-down relief bill, Ms. Pelosi now appears poised to accept less than one third of the spending Democrats initially proposed to prop up small businesses, help the uninsured and jobless, boost state and local governments, and meet immediate public health needs.