WASHINGTON (CNN)– Top lawmakers and White House officials ended more than nine hours of closed-door negotiations on the economic stimulus bill shortly before midnight Tuesday indicating a final deal on the roughly $800 billion bill is possible as early as Wednesday.
“People are making progress. Drafting is taking place tonight. We’re not there yet but we made a significant amount of progress,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said as he left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office for the last time of the day.
“Everybody is doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” said White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. “Everyone knows the seriousness of the economic crisis.”
Pelosi, Reid, and Emanuel shuttled between meetings on the either side of the Capitol. The meetings included key House and Senate committee chairmen as well as the three Senate Republican moderates who voted for the bill Tuesday, giving it a slim margin of victory.
They were trying to execute a broad framework that Democratic sources tell CNN was hatched in an unpublicized White House meeting early Tuesday morning with President Obama, Reid and Pelosi.
Details began to emerge on the merging of the bills. Two senior Democratic sources said negotiators had agreed on a top line number of $800 billion but later one of those sources said the number could be even less. That would be less than either the Senate’s $838 billion bill or the House’s $819 billion.
Several sources involved tell CNN that the number is lower to satisfy the three moderate Republican senators who wanted a lower final number.
Also, Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, who chairs the Finance Committee, said that negotiators have kept a one year patch of the alternative minimum tax in the bill – something House negotiators had argued should be handled outside of the stimulus package.
A Democratic source also said a plan to give tax credits to home buyers which is in the Senate bill will likeky be scaled back to make room for House priorities and a Senate proposal to give tax incentives to people who buy American built cars is also likely to be nixed.
Asked if a deal is possible Wednesday, Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, the chairman of the finance committee said, “It’s very possible.”