Bicameral Coalition Endorses $908 Billion Bipartisan Proposal for COVID Relief

December 1, 2020 by Dan McCue
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON – Republican and Democratic senators were joined by members of the House Problem Solvers conference Tuesday to endorse a $908 billion COVID economic relief bill they say should carry the nation into the early spring.

The proposal, described by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., as a “template or a framework” for a final COVID emergency relief package, includes $228 billion to extend the Paycheck Protection Program into next year, and contains a provision to ensure that restaurants and other hospitality industry businesses qualify for assistance.

The proposal, which will run through April, also includes $160 million for states and local municipalities, and $180 billion for unemployment insurance.

The unemployment benefits would break down to $300 a week for 18 weeks, retroactive to Dec. 1. 

That’s half of the $600 per week included under the CARES Act from late March.

It also includes billions in assistance for transportation-related industries like airlines, $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution and additional money for schools and child care services.

Manchin told reporters assembled in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Tuesday morning that Senate and House members gathered with him behind the podium had been “working diligently for the last 30 days or more trying to get to a conclusion.”

“Every Senator and every Congressperson here has put in an enormous amount of time on this in person and on the phone,” he said, adding that their staff had also put in “an intense amount of work,” many foregoing their traditional Thanksgivings to get the proposal done.

“We did this in the best interest of … our great country, and so that we can all go home knowing that we have worked diligently to make sure that the unemployed, the small businesses, the state and local funding, student loan forbearance … everything that is scheduled to come to a halt in December, continues,” Manchin said.

The senator said that at a time when the nation is battling COVID-19 “more fiercely now than ever,” it would be “inexcusable for us to leave town and not have an agreement” on a relief package.

“It’s not the time for political brinkmanship,” he said. “Our action to provide emergency relief is needed now more than ever before.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., acknowledged the proposal is not going to please everybody, but said “it would be stupidity on steroids if Congress left for Christmas without doing an interim relief package.

Warner noted a recently published Washington Post report stating that without some kind of aid from Congress, the D.C. Metro will soon be forced to lay off 4,000 workers, and curtail daily service while ending weekend service entirely.

“This will have a dramatic effect on the functions of the federal government as well as constituents across the tri-state area,” he said.

He also acknowledged the work of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, describing her as “the leader on garnering support for small businesses.”

“We have literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses across Virginia that are struggling, disproportionally, the majority of those businesses have been minority businesses,” he said. “In this package we have allocated $11 billion for investments in CDFIs, MDIs, and other institutions that will lend to these underserved communities.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, said the unveiling of the proposal “is a win for the American people” and “for common sense.”

Gottheimer said his caucus’s endorsement means the proposal already had the support of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans in the House, “who combined represent millions of families and businesses who need immediate action.”

“They want to get help, and they are sick and tired, like we all are, of waiting for COVID relief,” he said.

“We can’t allow some to prioritize politics ahead of the pandemic,” he continued. “This four-month COVID-19 emergency relief package will help get us through the hardest months of Winter and into the new administration.”

“This bicameral package is consistent with the values and priorities of the problem solvers … and it will help families across the country with supplement unemployment, child care, rental assistance, and resources for all those families who may be visiting food pantries for the first time,” he said.

“It includes significant investment for our state and local governments of all sizes, to deal with revenue loss, COVID-19 expenditures, food insecurity, mass transit and K-12 education,” Gottheimer said, adding, “we’re getting federal investment to our hospitals and health systems and frontline workers so we can continue working to keep our communities safe.”

Among those throwing their support behind the bill Tuesday were Problem Solvers Caucus leadership members Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, Dean Phillips, D-Minn., Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Fred Upton, R-Mich. 

In addition to Sens. Manchin, Collins and Warner, Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Angus King, I-Maine, and Bill Cassidy, R-La., also spoke in favor of the framework.

Manchin said neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered assurances that the bipartisan proposal will be brought to the floors of their respective chambers for a vote.

“But I think the American people will put the pressure on, showing this needs to be done,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to talk about coronavirus relief on Tuesday for the first time since October.

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

Republicans Vow to Keep Raising Jan. 6 Questions, Despite Committee Quarrels
Political News
Republicans Vow to Keep Raising Jan. 6 Questions, Despite Committee Quarrels
July 23, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - As a select committee prepares to open its investigation Tuesday into the events leading up to and during the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, a trio of House Republican wonder what might have been. Everyone expected some controversy when House Minority Leader Kevin... Read More

Pelosi Says 'Deadly Serious' Jan. 6 Probe to Go Without GOP
Congress
Pelosi Says 'Deadly Serious' Jan. 6 Probe to Go Without GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will take on its "deadly serious" work whether Republicans participate or not.  The Republicans' House leader, Kevin McCarthy, called the committee... Read More

Greenhouse Gases Heat Up Lawmakers’ Health Concerns
Climate
Greenhouse Gases Heat Up Lawmakers’ Health Concerns
July 21, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The million acres of forest that burned in western states in the past week were a lesser concern for a congressional panel that discussed the hazards of high heat caused by climate change Wednesday. “It’s becoming a routine part of life on the West... Read More

House Democrats Urge Biden to Permanently Close Digital Divide
Congress
House Democrats Urge Biden to Permanently Close Digital Divide
July 21, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to permanently close the nation’s digital divide by targeting federal investments in broadband to the hardest to reach areas, while also providing a permanent, federally-funded broadband benefit program to financially vulnerable families. The effort is being spearheaded... Read More

Sexual Assault in the Military Subject of Congressional Hearing
Congress
Sexual Assault in the Military Subject of Congressional Hearing
July 21, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

The Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing recently to discuss a new set of recommendations to better address sexual assault in the military. “The toll that sexual assault and sexual harassment has taken on our military is devastating and incalculable. We know the numbers, but... Read More

DC Circuit Strikes Down GOP Challenge to Proxy Voting
Congress
DC Circuit Strikes Down GOP Challenge to Proxy Voting
July 20, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON  - A Republican-led challenge to a House resolution allowing members to vote remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic ended abruptly Tuesday after the D.C. Circuit held it had no authority to review a “core” legislative act of Congress. House Resolution 965 was adopted in May 2020... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top