SANTA MONICA, CA - DECEMBER 15: A patient surved a code blue and then was rushed to ICU to be intubated and be placed on a ventalator inside Providence Saint John's Health Center on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Santa Monica, CA. They have expanded their ICU capacity. They are not currently over capacity at the moment. They have had 19 covid positive cases and they have 23 beds at this moment. The numbers are constantly is shiflting. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Dave Goldiner

New York Daily News

Hurry up and cut a deal!

Congressional leaders were inching towards agreement Thursday on a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package that would include a $600 check in the Christmas stockings of most Americans.

Democrats and Republicans woke up on a wintry morning hoping to iron out the final details of a plan which would also extend a helping hand to businesses and $300 a week to the unemployed.

Despite the lack of a final handshake, there seemed to be little question that a deal would materialize and that the final haggling would not derail it.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has posed the biggest obstacle to a major new deal over months of stalemate, assured reporters that a deal was coming.

There’s no time to waste.

The weekly jobs report Thursday showed nearly 900,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits. That’s the highest total since September and shows the economy has stalled as the feared second wave of the pandemic spreads.

The COVID-19 death toll and caseload is also soaring, with 3,500 perishing Wednesday alone.

The new stimulus package amounts to a dramatic compromise after months of partisan deadlock.

It’s much smaller than what many say is needed, but much more than what Republicans originally wanted to spend.

The deal effectively leaves out aid to hard-hit states and cities like New York that are facing massive pandemic bills that could lead to punishing layoffs and budget cuts.

Democrats are seeking to sneak some aid to local governments through budget side doors of boosts to federal agencies.

Since the initial $1.8 trillion CARES Act passed in March, Republicans have resisted a costly new package.

By the time President Trump and the GOP were ready to make a deal, Democrats wouldn’t take yes for an answer. They instead rolled the dice on a sweeping election victory that would open the door to an even bigger package.

With America groaning for help, Democrats scaled back their expectations dramatically to get some help out the door before the end of the year and before Trump leaves office.

They hope to enact a sprawling new plan as soon as President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January, and the incoming leader called the emerging version “an important down payment.” Needless to say, the GOP may be less likely to lend a hand when Joe Biden’s the man in the White House.

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