WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced its own coronavirus relief plan Tuesday with a promise that Congress will not leave for Christmas until a compromise is reached.
The $908 billion package includes $288 billion for small businesses, $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance, and $160 billion for state and local governments. It also has funding for schools, transportation, health care, and student loan and housing assistance.
“This is a victory for the American people,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-LA. “This is a victory for common sense.”
Cassidy said while the proposal does not include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, the money will go to the neediest Americans before key COVID-19 relief programs expire at the end of the year.
“We’re actually meeting the human need,” he said. “Republicans and Democrats, neither of us got everything we wanted. Both of us got much of what we wanted. I think that combination reflects what Congress is supposed to do: reconciling different priorities but ultimately doing something good for the American people.”
The plan also includes a GOP priority, a temporary federal liability shield from coronavirus lawsuits while states set up their own reforms, which had been a sticking point for Democrats.
“We acknowledge federal liability has to be one of the things we consider and do, and make sure we do it right,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV.
Now the group has to convince House and Senate leadership that the benefits are worth the political compromise.
“We’re hearing from members across the spectrum that they want to get something done before we go home, and I think that pressure is really going to get this to the floor for a vote,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ.
While Gottheimer is hopeful of Speaker Nancy Pelosi budging, Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, blames her for the hold up.
“Until I see her show a willingness to get out of La La Land and be realistic, we’re not going to have a coronavirus bill,” Kennedy said.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also revived their talks Tuesday after they stalled before the election. Mnuchin said President Donald Trump would like to see more funding before the end of the year, especially for small businesses.