Contours of coronavirus aid deal between Democrats, White House take shape

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders and White House negotiators were discussing a compromise framework on Wednesday for another round of coronavirus aid that could include a $400 weekly boosted unemployment payment, according to three Democratic sources familiar with conversations.

While there was not yet an agreed-upon deal, ongoing talks were weighing $400 a week in federal unemployment payments through December, according to the sources. It would also extend the eviction moratorium through the end of the year, but would provide no federal rental assistance.

The deal was also expected to include $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, which Democrats say represents a compromise from the $25 billion they had initially asked for.

Democratic leadership and White House officials have been working for days to find a compromise after the $600-week jobless benefits expired at the end of the July. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin were scheduled to return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Pelosi and Schumer were also scheduled to meet on Wednesday with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Schumer said on Tuesday that the administration agreed to the meeting to discuss the concerns that have been raised about mail-in voting.

Schumer arrived at the Monday negotiating session prepared to press the administration on securing a meeting with DeJoy, who had refused several attempts by Democrats to schedule a phone call, according to one of the sources familiar with the talks.

Schumer produced copies of 10 news articles about mail delays from across the country, including one from Philadelphia that found some people had gone three weeks without packages or mail, delaying delivery of needed medications, paychecks and bills, according to the source. Pennsylvania is a state that is viewed as potentially key to President Donald Trump's re-election.

White House and congressional negotiators could announce they have agreed on a total cost for the aid — which Democrats had hoped would top $3 trillion, and Republicans have wanted to keep below $1 trillion — by the end of Wednesday, according to a fourth source familiar with talks.

The two sides have not yet reached an agreement on education funding, according to the two Democratic sources.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expected to rely heavily on Democratic votes to approve a package in the Senate, indicating that Republican consensus was unlikely.