Coronavirus Stimulus Talks Moving in Right Direction, Party Leaders Say

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers dived into negotiations Thursday over the two thorniest components of a new coronavirus aid package as momentum grew for a roughly $900 billion compromise proposal designed to break the congressional stalemate in time for the Christmas holiday.

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group from the House and Senate had reached broad consensus around a new $908 billion aid package that included funding for state and local governments and legal protections for businesses and other entities operating during the pandemic. Lawmakers wrestled Thursday over the details of those parts of the proposal, which also includes money for unemployment insurance, small businesses and vaccine distribution, among other measures.

“The number is not the problem,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “It’s policy differences.”

Mr. Graham, a new voice in support of the bipartisan proposal, said he had spoken about the package with President Trump. “The president’s of the mind-set a bill would be good for the country, he would like to see it happen, but it’s got to have the right policy,” he said.

Both Mr. Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have urged Congress to reach a deal. “I think we are getting very close,” Mr. Trump said Thursday. “I want it to happen. And I believe we are getting very close to a deal.”

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