Politico

Bipartisan coalition releases details of $908B coronavirus package


The bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing a $908 billion coronavirus relief package has reached a broader framework for their measure, but details on liability and state and local aid have yet to be finalized.

According to an outline of the framework released Wednesday, the negotiators have an agreement in principle on providing $160 billion for state and local funding and an agreement in principle on liability “as the basis for good faith negotiations.” State and local aid and liability protections are two of the biggest sticking points among Democrats and Republicans for any Covid relief deal.

The proposal, just one of several, comes as the path forward on coronavirus relief remains unclear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Tuesday that liability reform and state and local funding should be scrapped during the current round of negotiations. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, was quick to push back and accused McConnell of trying to sabotage the bipartisan talks.

The latest version of the $908 billion package, which is being led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), would expand federal unemployment benefits to $300 a week for 16 weeks. In addition, it would provide $300 billion to the Small Business Administration to fund the Paycheck Protection Program, $25 billion in rental assistance to states and local governments and extend an eviction moratorium until the end of January 2021. It would also include $10 billion to support child care providers and $82 billion for education providers, as well as more money for testing and vaccines.

The bipartisan group has yet to release final legislative text. The outline of the proposal comes as Congress is facing an imminent government funding deadline. Both McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have said that any coronavirus relief should be attached to an end-of-the year spending package.

But any coronavirus relief agreement will need buy-in from House and Senate leaders, as well as the White House. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered Pelosi a $916 billion package Tuesday. But Pelosi and Schumer responded that its provisions on unemployment were inadequate and warned that the White House “proposal must not be allowed to obstruct the bipartisan Congressional talks that are underway.”

Manchin told reporters Wednesday that the Trump administration’s proposal “didn’t make any sense.” But he thanked the White House “for at least recognizing that the $900 billion is a number that’s doable, feasible and reasonable.”

The $908 billion plan does not include direct stimulus checks to Americans, which Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are both endorsing and has the backing of President Donald Trump.

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