Negotiators discuss $800 billion U.S. stimulus deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers worked late into the night on Tuesday haggling over a final package of tax cuts and spending initiatives, as talks centered on an $800 billion package to fight the deepening recession.

"We're not there, but we've made a significant amount of progress the last 10 hours," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters after he wrapped up Tuesday's final negotiating session.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he hoped an agreement could be reached on Wednesday, but declined to detail the progress made.

Earlier, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said during a pause in late-night meetings that "$800 billion is a figure that has been mentioned" by senators as a final price tag for the bill.

The negotiations in the Capitol, with White House officials attending, began shortly after the Senate passed its $838 billion version of a rescue plan to fight a year-old recession that brings mounting job losses nationwide.

The House of Representatives has approved about $820 billion in spending and tax cuts. The negotiations, by a small group of lawmakers from the Senate and House, are aimed at reconciling the two versions.

President Barack Obama wants the Democratic-controlled Congress to deliver a package by this weekend so he can sign it into law. But he must keep together a narrow coalition that wants the price tag lowered to about $800 billion.

The Senate voted 61-37 on Tuesday to approve its version, with support from just three Republicans, while the House had last month passed its package with no Republican support.

Obama met Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, at the White House earlier on Tuesday to discuss moving ahead and later the new president, on a visit to Florida to build support, called the Senate vote "good news."

On its own, the stimulus package is unlikely to fix the struggling economy because it does not address financial sector problems. As long as banks face losses and struggle to raise money, lending will be limited and so will economic growth.

The Obama administration is trying to address this problem on a separate track through a bank rescue program unveiled by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday.

WALL STREET UNIMPRESSED

But Wall Street reacted skeptically. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 382 points or 4.62 percent as traders cited fears that the new plan would not go far enough to resolve the financial crisis.

The House and Senate approved different mixes of income tax credits and tax incentives to rejuvenate the shattered housing market, as well as tens of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects, healthcare and education.

To win the votes in the Senate needed to pass the stimulus bill, senators cut from its package tens of billions of dollars including $16 billion for school construction and $40 billion in direct aid to states facing growing budget gaps.

Those changes lured three Republicans who were needed to advance the bill in the Senate, where Democrats have only 58 of the 60 votes needed to clear potential procedural hurdles.

But in a sign of tough negotiations ahead, Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who helped broker the initial compromise, said she could not again vote for the measure if it stayed at the current size.

"I'm not saying what's in, what's out. I'm just saying the bottom line must be under $800 billion," she told reporters after the Senate vote.

But Obama has already said he wants some education funds restored to the package and other Democrats have said they believe it should have more spending included.

"There will be an effort to make some changes in the education sectors," said Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat. But he cautioned that Republicans were dead-set against federal money to build schools.

REPUBLICAN HELP NEEDED

He said that negotiators will need the approval of any new details by the three Republican senators who voted for the Senate bill: Collins, Olympia Snowe, also of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said provisions to offer $50 billion in tax breaks for buying a home or a new car would probably stay in but be modified.

"The main thing is the final conference report is going to be very similar to the Senate bill because that's where the votes are," he said.

Republicans have demanded the focus should be more on tax cuts than spending that they say will not boost the economy.

"It's entirely too large, entirely too untargeted and, more than anything else, it's not timely," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Obama has rejected the Republican push for more tax cuts, arguing such policies under former Republican President George W. Bush contributed to the current crisis.

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Everything comes down to the two Senate runoffs in Georgia. If we lose both races, we lose the country. Democrats know this and are pouring in millions to usher in a Marxist agenda.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" to explain how mail-in ballots are typically disqualified during recounts at a far higher rate than in-person, Election Day ballots, and why this is "good news" for President Donald Trump's legal battle over the election.

"One of the things that gives the greatest cause for optimism is, this election ... there's a pretty marked disparity in terms of how the votes were distributed. On Election Day, with in-person voting, Donald Trump won a significant majority of the votes cast on in-person voting on Election Day. Of mail-in voting, Joe Biden won a significant majority of the votes cast early on mail-in voting," Cruz explained.

"Now, here's the good news: If you look historically to recounts, if you look historically to election litigation, the votes cast in person on Election Day tend to stand. It's sort of hard to screw that up. Those votes are generally legal, and they're not set aside. Mail-in votes historically have a much higher rate of rejection … when they're examined, there are a whole series of legal requirements that vary state by state, but mail-in votes consistently have a higher rate of rejection, which suggests that as these votes begin being examined and subjected to scrutiny, that you're going to see Joe Biden's vote tallies go down. That's a good thing," he added. "The challenge is, for President Trump to prevail, he's got to run the table. He's got to win, not just in one state but in several states. That makes it a lot harder to prevail in the litigation. I hope that he does so, but it is a real challenge and we shouldn't try to convince ourselves otherwise."

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Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean is perhaps even more disgusted with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for his coronavirus response than BlazeTV's Stu Burguiere (read what Stu has to say on the subject here), and for a good reason.

She lost both of her in-laws to COVID-19 in New York's nursing homes after Gov. Cuomo's infamous nursing home mandate, which Cuomo has since had scrubbed from the state's website and blamed everyone from the New York Post to nursing care workers to (every leftist's favorite scapegoat) President Donald Trump.

Janice joined Glenn and Stu on the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday to ask why mainstream media is not holding Gov. Cuomo — who recently published a book about his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic — accountable?

"I'm vocal because I have not seen the mainstream media ask these questions or demand accountability of their leaders. [Cuomo] really has been ruling with an iron fist, and every time he does get asked a question, he blames everybody else except the person that signed that order," Janice said.

"In my mind, he's profiting off the over 30 thousand New Yorkers, including my in-laws, that died by publishing a book on 'leadership' of New York," she added. "His order has helped kill thousands of relatives of New York state. And this is not political, Glenn. This is not about Republican or Democrat. My in-laws were registered Democrats. This is not about politics. This is about accountability for something that went wrong, and it's because of your [Cuomo's] leadership that we're put into this situation."

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As America grows divided and afraid to disagree with the Democrats' woke plan for America, Megyn Kelly is ready to fight back for the truth. For nearly two decades, she navigated the volatile and broken world of the media. But as America leans on independent voices more than ever, she's breaking new ground with "The Megyn Kelly Show."

She joined the latest Glenn Beck Podcast to break down what's coming next after the election: Black Lives Matter is mainstream, leftists are making lists of Trump supporters, and the Hunter Biden scandal is on the back burner.

Megyn and Glenn reminisce about their cable news days (including her infamous run-in with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump) and to look into the chaotic and shady world of journalism and the growing entitlement it's bred. For example, many conservatives have been shocked by how Fox News handled the election.

Megyn defended Fox News, saying she believes Fox News' mission "is a good one," but also didn't hold back on hosts like Neil Cavuto, who cut off a White House briefing to fact check it — something she never would have done, even while covering President Obama.

Megyn also shared this insightful takeaway from her time at NBC: "Jane Fonda was an ass."

Watch the full podcast here:

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