Congress is close to reaching a bipartisan deal on coronavirus funding, with negotiators for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) close to a $7–$8 billion package which could be unveiled Tuesday.
“We worked through the weekend on the appropriations measure. Hopefully we can all reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on that soon,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Monday.
The amount is much higher than the Trump administration’s request of $2.5 billion — and closer to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s request of $8.5 billion. It is possible that both chambers could vote on the bill by the end of the week. “If they want to do more, we’ll do more,” President Trump told reporters last week.
“We should get this done Wednesday or Thursday. It shouldn’t be a problem,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, adding, “I know Democrats were trying to legislate in a way that they shouldn’t. They were trying to add things that shouldn’t be a part of it.”
Republicans had been wary of any coronavirus funding bill being used to reauthorize expiring surveillance powers under FISA, and sent a letter on Friday to Pelosi urging Democrats to keep the two separate. Politico reported Monday that the parties are likely to ignore FISA for now, over concerns that it could complicate and delay the passing of a coronavirus budget.
Democrats have kept up public criticism of the Trump administration for its handling of the outbreak, while working intensely to expedite a bipartisan agreement behind-the-scenes.
U.S. coronavirus cases have risen in recent days, with the death toll hitting six in King County, Washington, as of Monday.