A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled compromise legislation for a new round of coronavirus stimulus worth more than $900 billion that’s aimed at breaking months of deadlock between the House and Senate.
The group included Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and specified their “COVID Emergency Relief Framework,” which calls for $288 billion in small-business support and $180 billion for extended unemployment insurance, among other fiscal appropriations.
The new proposal follows months of stalled negotiations between House Democrats and Republican White House officials on another round of aid to help Americans and businesses overextended by the health crisis.
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“We are in a moment where we are hearing from our constituents from all walks of life about the importance of coming together to get people the relief they need to get through this winter a time when we are seeing cases spike, hospital beds full, our front-line workers exhausted,” said Sen. Maggie Hassen, D-N.H.
“[They’re] worried that somebody will come in for care and there will not be room for them, and they will not be able to do the jobs that they are trained to do,” she told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.
“COVID has created a crisis, and in a crisis, the people expect Congress to act,” Romney added. “We’ve got people unemployed, we’ve got businesses shutting down, we’ve got states and localities getting ready to lay off large numbers of people.
“It’s simply unacceptable.”
The bipartisan group said the pitch is a way to resolve the months-long deadlock between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leaders, who have not wavered for months on their separate proposals.
The impasse is gaining more urgency as some of the measures enacted in March as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act are nearing their expiration, including expanded unemployment insurance and eviction moratoriums which will vanish at the end of the year.
House Democrats approved a subsequent, $2.2 trillion stimulus package more than six months ago, but the measure hasn’t been considered by the GOP-held Senate. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has failed to pass an alternative, $500 billion “skinny” relief bill.
The bipartisan proposal includes $160 billion in state and local aid — which is opposed by McConnell and other Senate Republicans — and would shield businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Other lawmakers supporting the bipartisan solution are Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Bill Cassidy R-La.; Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and Angus King I-Maine. They also include members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.
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