Deal re­port­edly near on pack­age of res­cue aid

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FROM THE COVER - By Lisa Mas­caro, An­drew Tay­lor and Jonathan Lemire Lisa Mas­caro, An­drew Tay­lor and Jonathan Lemire are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

WASH­ING­TON — Congressio­nal and White House of­fi­cials said Tuesday they were clos­ing out fi­nal de­tails of un­prece­dented leg­is­la­tion to rush sweep­ing aid to busi­nesses and work­ers fac­ing ruin from the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Af­ter days of pres­sure, un­usual par­ti­san­ship in a cri­sis, and in­tense hag­gling over the fine print, ne­go­tia­tors ap­peared al­most done with a nearly $2 tril­lion bill to re­spond to what Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell called “the most se­ri­ous threat to Amer­i­cans’ health in over a cen­tury and quite likely the greatest risk to Amer­ica’s jobs and pros­per­ity that we’ve seen since the Great De­pres­sion.” The fi­nal de­tails proved net­tle­some as Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­a­tions deep into the night.

Yet even as the pub­lic­health cri­sis deep­ened, Pres­i­dent Trump ex­pressed ea­ger­ness to nudge many peo­ple back to work in com­ing weeks and held out a prospect, based more on hope than science, that the coun­try could be re­turn­ing to nor­mal in less than a month.

“We have to go back to work, much sooner than peo­ple thought,” he told a Fox News town hall. He said he’d like to have the coun­try “opened up and just rar­ing to go” by Easter, April 12. Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als say so­cial dis­tanc­ing needs to be stepped up, not re­laxed, to slow the spread of in­fec­tions.

Trea­sury Secretary Steven

Mnuchin and congressio­nal lead­ers en­gaged in fi­nal ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter a tu­mul­tuous but pro­duc­tive day on Mon­day. While the two sides have re­solved many is­sues in the sweep­ing pack­age, some stick­ing points re­mained. A Se­nate vote ap­peared likely on Wed­nes­day, with a House vote to fol­low.

“We’re try­ing to fi­nal­ize all the doc­u­ments, go­ing through a lot of com­pli­cated is­sues, and we’re mak­ing a lot of progress,” Mnuchin said.

Rav­aged in re­cent days, stocks rock­eted as ne­go­tia­tors sig­naled a res­o­lu­tion was in sight.

At is­sue is an un­prece­dented eco­nomic res­cue pack­age that would give di­rect pay­ments to most Amer­i­cans, ex­panded un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, and a $367 bil­lion pro­gram for small busi­nesses to keep mak­ing pay­roll while work­ers are forced to stay home. One of the last is­sues to close con­cerned $500 bil­lion for guaranteed, sub­si­dized loans to larger in­dus­tries.

A one­time pay­ment of $1,200 per per­son, or $3,000 for a fam­ily of four, would go di­rectly to the pub­lic.

Chip So­mod­ev­illa / Getty Images

Trea­sury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (sec­ond from left) ar­rives at the U.S. Capi­tol to con­tinue ne­go­ti­a­tions on a $2 tril­lion eco­nomic stim­u­lus plan in re­sponse to the pan­demic.

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