A bipartisan group of lawmakers rolled out a $748 billion coronavirus relief package on Monday and a separate proposal that includes $160 billion in state and local government aid as well as liability protections for businesses.
The original framework for the total relief package was $908 billion. State and local aid has been proposed outside of the larger package in a revised plan.
The updated coronavirus relief package, titled the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, includes a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit and $300 billion of increased Paycheck Protection Program funding to aid struggling small businesses during the pandemic.
“It would be Scrooge-like if we went away and left folks the day after Christmas to lose their unemployment or the day after New Years to lose their apartment,” Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said. “We’re going to cross the finish line.”
In the $160 billion package, tiled the Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act, $91.2 billion would be directed to states, $60.8 billion to localities and $8 billion to tribal governments.
The state and local aid along with liability protections for businesses were separated from the relief package because there was not enough agreement among lawmakers on those issues.
Senators in the group proposing the legislation include Warner, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
“There’s not a reason why our leadership should not take this up immediately and pass it,” Manchin said. “We will not go home for Christmas until we pass legislation that gives relief to the American people.”
House members who are part of the coalition include the co-chairmen of the House Problem Solvers Caucus – New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed and New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer.
Collins and Gottheimer said the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as the bipartisan lawmakers working across the aisle on the new relief bills were Christmas miracles.
Reed said he hopes both proposed pieces of legislation will be combined to form one final bill that passes in each chamber.
“There’s one more Christmas miracle we hope to perform in the House and get these two bills into one,” Reed said.