Breaking: Stimulus checks added to COVID relief deal

Congressional leaders are near an agreement to add a new round of stimulus checks to a roughly $900 billion relief package as they rush to complete a deal before the end of the week, according to three people familiar with the talks granted anonymity to share internal deliberations.

A bipartisan proposal released earlier this week by a group of moderate lawmakers excluded another round of $1,200 stimulus checks. But as congressional leaders tried to resolve differences in recent days, they decided to try and include a round of direct payments in the emerging legislation. The payments under discussion on Wednesday morning could be less than the $1,200 approved in the Cares Act in March, however.

The inclusion of these payments comes as congressional leaders opted to cut new aid for states and cities out of the bill, giving lawmakers more money to work with while keeping the total cost of the package under $1 trillion. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had proposed including $600 stimulus checks in the package last week, but Democrats opposed the measure then because the White House wanted to slash unemployment aid as well.