Congress adding second round of stimulus checks to COVID relief bill

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Two lawmakers tested postive for the virus over the weekend. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, revealed he tested positice for the virus. Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat, also announced his diagnosis.

Americans would likely receive a payment lower than $1,200 this time around

U.S. Congressional leaders were working Wednesday to tuck a new round of stimulus checks into the $900 billion COVID economic relief package and hope to have a deal in place for financially strapped Americans by the end of the week, according to reports.

The payments, however, were not expected to be as big as the $1,200 relief checks sent out in the spring as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act.

Intense deliberations were ongoing but near an agreement following days of bipartisan rancor, according to several media reports from Capitol Hill.

An earlier proposal by a bipartisan caucus of moderate lawmakers stopped short of another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, but as negotiations continued more common ground emerged among lawmakers to add back some form of direct payments to Americans.

Legislators also created more flexibility in the bill by leaving out new assistance for states and cities, which also keeps the total cost below $1 trillion, according to The Washington Post.

Last week Democrats balked at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s proposal to include $600 stimulus checks in the bill because the White House also wanted to cut aid for unemployed workers.

Lawmakers also want to include funds that would be used to distribute the coronavirus vaccine.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held what was described as hours of productive meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

McCarthy said late Tuesday that negotiations were going “really well,” and McConnell said “significant progress” was being made, according to The Post.

The package could turn out to be similar to separate bipartisan bill being pushed by Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., along with other House and Senate moderates, which seeks hundreds of billions in aid to small businesses and unemployed Americans, plus tens of billions for education, transportation, and other critical needs.

This is a developing story. Stay with AJC.com for the latest updates.

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