Bipartisan lawmakers unveiled a coronavirus stimulus package on Tuesday after months of Congressional inaction to curb the economic damage from the outbreak.
The roughly $ 908 billion proposal includes $ 288 billion for small business such as paycheck protection loans, $ 160 billion for state and local relief, and $ 180 billion for additional unemployment insurance under a draft framework. It would allocate $ 16 billion to vaccine distribution, testing, and contact tracing, $ 82 billion to education, and funding for rental support, childcare, and broadband.
The proposal would not include another direct payment to most Americans. It would also provide temporary federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits – a provision that Democrats have spoken out against – while states create their own laws.
Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, a member of the Congressional group discussing a new relief plan, used to call it an “interim package” to provide assistance until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
“If there’s one thing I consistently hear it is, ‘Congress, don’t leave town for the holidays, get out of the country and the economy drifting with all these initial worries [Act] Programs are running out, “Warner told CNBC’s Squawk Box.
It is unclear whether the leaders of Congress will accept the proposal or whether it will lead to a breakthrough before the end of the year, when many programs expire. Democrats have opposed liability protection and pushed for additional unemployment benefits of $ 600 a week, while the GOP has pushed against new state and local aid.
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks as non-partisan members of the Senate and House of Representatives gather to discuss a framework for legislation to combat the new on December 1, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
Even so, it underscored the rumble among ordinary legislators to provide more aid, even if the party leaders fail to break a month-long dead end.
“It is imperative that we pass emergency relief,” said Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who worked on the plan, at a press conference announcing the proposal.
The pandemic has ravaged the country, burdened hospitals, and forced state and local officials to put new business restrictions in place to slow infections. At the same time, the lifelines established by Congress earlier this year will expire at the end of the year, hitting Americans who are already struggling to cover the costs.
The programs, which expire at the end of December, include an extension of unemployment insurance, a federal moratorium on the payment of student loans, and eviction protection.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The leaders of the Democratic House and the GOP-controlled Senate have not had any formal talks on incentives since the 2020 elections on November 3.
Talks between the Trump administration and the Democrats collapsed ahead of the election. On Tuesday, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to speak for the first time since late October.
Mnuchin told reporters that the couple will focus on a spending bill that Congress must pass before December 11th to avoid a government shutdown. They plan to mention coronavirus relief, he said.
During the stalemate, members of both parties pushed for compromises to ease some of the pressure on the economy and the health system. In addition to the economic programs, the federal government will likely have to approve funds to streamline the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months.
Senators who participated in the discussion of the aid proposal include Warner, Collins, Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Senator Maggie Hassan, DN .H. And Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. Members of the House of Representatives were also involved, including New Jersey Democratic MP Josh Gottheimer and New York Republican MP Tom Reed, leader of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
If the unemployment programs expire at the end of the year, about 12 million Americans could lose benefits. The two policies allow individuals to take out insurance for longer than usual, and make freelance workers, contractors, and others who are normally not entitled to benefits eligible to receive them.
Warner forwarded a letter from around 30 Democratic senators to the chamber leadership on Tuesday calling for both directives to be extended. They wrote that the loss of perks around Christmas would be “particularly cruel” as the outbreak is expected to worsen over the winter months.
Some lawmakers may be pushing to tie the provisions for coronavirus aid to an expense account.
– CNBC’s Ylan Mui contributed to this report
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