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McConnell says a Covid stimulus compromise is within reach — ‘We can do this’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) conducts a news conference in the U.S. Capitol after the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Washington, U.S. December 1, 2020.

Tom Williams | Reuters

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he has seen “hopeful signs” toward Congress striking a coronavirus stimulus deal before the end of the year.

“Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree. We can do this,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor.

Whether Democrats, who lead the House and can hold up any bill in the Senate, will accept McConnell’s vision of compromise remains to be seen. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cut their aid demands Wednesday when they embraced a $908 billion bipartisan proposal as a starting point for talks with McConnell.

Still, the GOP leader rejected the proposal when a bicameral group released it this week. He put forward his own roughly $500 billion plan.

On Thursday, McConnell called for a deal similar to the one he unveiled. It includes Paycheck Protection Program loan funding and money for education and vaccine distribution. Democrats have backed all of those provisions.

However, it includes one piece Democrats find toxic: Covid-19 liability protections for businesses and universities. Pelosi and Schumer have also repeatedly pushed for state and local government aid and supplemental federal unemployment payments, which McConnell’s plan does not include.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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