US congressional negotiators neared a $900 billion deal to address Covid-19, including direct payments to Americans but no financial aid for states and cities and no liability protections for businesses, Politico reported on Wednesday.
The potential agreement could come as early as later on Wednesday morning, according to the report, which cited multiple sources involved in and briefed on the ongoing talks.
Reported progress on a relief bill comes after leaders in Congress on Tuesday said they had made substantial progress toward finalizing relief in late-night talks aimed at addressing the pandemic's heavy human and economic toll, and funding the federal government to avert a government shutdown.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the $900 billion figure.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been urging this approach, leaving out the local aid touted by Democrats and a liability shield pushed by Republicans that are the two most contentious items on the table.
With pressure building on Congress to deliver more help for a nation suffering under a resurgent pandemic, McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy met twice on Tuesday with Democratic counterparts House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, in rare face-to-face negotiating sessions between Congress' top leaders.
The surge of infections and hospitalizations continues to strain the healthcare systems to the brink of collapse with 304,187 US deaths and 16.7 million infections, according to a Reuters tally. On Tuesday, the country saw 3,102 deaths - the third highest total since the pandemic began.[L1N2IW0L3]