Democrats and Republicans sounded upbeat following the conclusion of in-person talks on Tuesday between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.
McConnell told reporters that there has been “significant progress” and said, “I’m optimistic that we are going to be able to complete an understanding sometime soon.”
McCarthy similarly projected confidence, saying, “I think it’s going really well.”
Schumer said “it’s getting closer” when asked by CNN if he agreed with the assessment from top Republicans that a deal is close at hand.
“We are exchanging paper back and forth and hopefully we can come to a deal soon,” Schumer said, adding, “I think there is a genuine desire to come to any agreement by all four parties.”
The talks between Hill leaders took place on Tuesday after the formal unveiling earlier this week of legislative text on a potential Covid stimulus plan put forward by a bipartisan coalition aimed at finding common ground among a deeply divided Congress.
Instead of putting out a single legislative package, the bipartisan coalition split their proposal into two bills with one dealing with the thorny issues of state and local aid and liability protections, while the other focused on provisions expected to win widespread bipartisan support.
The consensus bill put forward by the bipartisan coalition that sidesteps that issue as well as liability protections could serve as a ready-made starting point for what could be agreed to more widely on Covid relief.