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Stimulus checks to Americans reportedly back in $900 billion relief bill talks

If included, the payments would likely be smaller than they were earlier this year

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Direct payments to individual Americans are reportedly back in relief package negotiations, the Washington Post reports. 

Citing three people familiar with the matter, the publication said that congressional leaders are close to completing an agreement that would potentially involve sending a second round of stimulus checks to consumers. The checks would be part of a $900 billion relief package proposed by bipartisan lawmakers earlier this month. 

However, the stimulus checks to individuals -- which Democratic leaders have been pushing for for weeks -- could be smaller than they were earlier this year ($1,200 to individuals and $500 per dependent). Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R., S.D.) told reporters on Wednesday that checks included in the new bill are likely to be in the $600 to $700 range per individual, but negotiations about the size of the payments are ongoing. 

Lawmakers are also discussing including enhanced unemployment insurance, like the $300 a week a bipartisan group of lawmakers recently proposed, Thune said. Additionally, the bill could include money earmarked for the effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines this year. 

Congressional leaders are working quickly to get a deal done ahead of a Friday night deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Meetings held Tuesday with three top congressional leaders have been described as productive. 

“We are close to an agreement. It’s not a done deal yet, but we are very close,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. “For Democrats, this has always been about getting the American people the relief they need at a time of an acute national crisis.”

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