“The arguments for fiscal policy are very, very strong right now, and I think that’s common knowledge right now,” he said. “Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it would be bad to see people lose their business, life’s work and even the work of generations.”
Even as negotiations continued, there were indications of economic damage from the worsening pandemic. Retail sales fell 1.1 percent in November, the Commerce Department reported. Restaurants and bars saw even bigger declines when states reintroduced their business restrictions.
Other measures of economic activity have also slowed in recent weeks, and claims for unemployment benefits have increased. For the millions of Americans already in need of unemployment benefits, the situation could be worse if two programs that expand and expand the unemployment insurance system expire after next week without action by Congress.
Republicans have continued to insist that a package should stay under $ 1 trillion to keep support among their ranks, and lawmakers and staff must argue over funding levels for various provisions and programs in the new measure. Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for about 45 minutes on Wednesday while they worked to work out the final details.
The move, which builds on a $ 748 billion bill proposed by a bipartisan group of moderates this week, is expected to include $ 25 billion to help establish a program that will help families affected by the pandemic are providing emergency rental assistance plus billions for vaccine development and sales, broadband and schools across the country.
The negotiators were still discussing the possible inclusion of House legislation that provides funds for distribution to states and cities and to fully cover the costs of emergency labor during the pandemic. They were also still haggling over widening and widening unemployment benefits and how long they would last. The deal is expected to revive the expired increased unemployment benefit to around $ 300 a week, half of the original benefit that was approved in March and expired in the summer. However, Republicans insisted on shortening the number of performance weeks to offset the cost of providing stimulus payments.
In addition to unemployment benefits, the plan would include a one-time direct payment to Americans that is expected to be around $ 600 per person, also half the amount provided for under the March Stimulus Act.