U.S. Speaker Pelosi asks leaders to meet on COVID-19 aid, government funding

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WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday invited other top congressional leaders to meet at 4 p.m. (2100 GMT) as they seek to finalize a massive government spending deal and reach an agreement on a new package of coronavirus relief, a source said.

Pelosi, a Democrat, invited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, as well as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, the source said.

Leading lawmakers have been hammering out the government spending measure, a $1.4 trillion bill for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. A source said Tuesday this task was basically done, but lawmakers from both parties still sought to strike a consensus on coronavirus relief, something they have argued about for months.

If the leaders can reach agreement, the coronavirus aid could be attached to the government spending bill, which must be passed by Friday to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Earlier this year Congress approved $3 trillion in coronavirus aid. A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate on Tuesday unveiled a new package of $908 billion in two parts.

One was a $748 billion proposal, including aid to small businesses, the unemployed and vaccine distribution. The other includes the two main sticking points on Capitol Hill: the liability protections for business, a Republican priority, and $160 billion for state and local governments, a Democratic priority.

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Credit: Nasdaq

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