US deal may be at hand to ease economic pain of coronavirus

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks to reporters outside the Senate chamber after Democrats blocked a coronavirus aid package on Capitol Hill, Monday, March 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional and White House officials said Tuesday a deal appears to be at hand to provide sweeping aid to businesses and workers facing ruin from the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, said agreement appeared close on the nearly $2 trillion package. "I don't see any issue that can't be overcome within the next few hours," Schumer said. "Last night I thought we were on the five-yard line. Now we're on the two."

Negotiators labored in the shadow of what McConnell called "the most serous 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."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders engaged in final negotiations after a tumultuous but productive day on Monday.