US Congress resumes talks on $1 trillion economic rescue

The US Congress resumed negotiations Saturday on an emergency economic package that could top $1 trillion to help the country deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was some optimism in the US Capitol that Democrats and Republicans could reach a deal, despite their failure to do so Friday, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped.

McConnell said negotiators had worked through the night and were getting closer to a compromise.

"Both sides (and) negotiators with the administration are continuing to work toward a bipartisan agreement on major legislation to support American workers and families," McConnell said.

"Small businesses all across the country have made it clear -- if they're going to keep their lights on and keep their employees on payroll, they need help. And they need it now."

Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said: "We are making very good progress."

"We are all eager to come to a bipartisan agreement as soon as is humanly possible," Schumer added.

McConnell's proposal includes onetime "recovery rebates" of up to $1,200 for most adults, and hundreds of billions of dollars in loan guarantees to crisis-hit industries, including airlines, and to small businesses.

Democrats continued to press for more benefits to go directly to workers who lose their jobs.

Schumer demanded a sweeping expansion of unemployment insurance that would provide furloughed and laid-off workers the same monthly pay that they had before the coronavirus crisis erupted.

He also called for more support for the beleaguered public health care industry, and for state and local governments which he said are running out of cash.

"We must provide -- they are on the front lines," he said.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said that the total amount of government support, with the bill in Congress and other programs, could top $2 trillion.

The first procedural vote on the measure was set for Sunday, which could lead to a final vote in the Senate on Monday.

The bill would then have to be approved by the House of Representatives, before being sent to Republican President Donald Trump for his signature.

That could force more negotiations.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said McConnell's proposal "puts corporations ahead of working people."

"As written, it is a non-starter," she said in a letter to Democratic colleagues.