A bipartisan group of legislators has put forth a $980 billion economic stimulus plan framework in an attempt to break the political logjam that has stymied for months a much-needed COVID-19 relief plan.
The group of senators and congressmen have proposed money for such programs as unemployment insurance, the Paycheck Protection Program, COVID-19 testing, vaccine development and distribution, airlines and student loan payment deferments.
The group, which includes Sens. Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Maggie Hassan, Angus King, Joe Manchin, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Jeanne Shaheen and Mark Warner, say they are committed to coming up with a workable stimulus plan before they leave for the Christmas break.
“It’s inexcusable for us to leave town and not have an agreement,” Sen. Manchin, D-West Virginia, said. “This is going to get us through the most difficult times.”
The plan would use the nearly $1 trillion to fund stimulus programs through April 1 of 2021.
The group acknowledged that the plan falls short of what Democrats were looking for and exceeds what Republicans last offered, but hoped the framework is enough to get legislation passed to help struggling business owners and those who have lost their job due to the pandemic, which closed down major portions of the country in March.
“It’s not going make everybody happy but there’s been an enormous amount of work done,” Sen. Warner, D-Virginia, said. “It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress left for Christmas without doing an interim package as a bridge.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said $560 billion of the package would be repurposed from the CARES Act which was passed last spring. The remaining $348 billion would be in new spending.
Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said he was interested in the proposal when he was asked about it as he testified before the Senate Banking Committee.
“I look forward to reviewing with you the overall package,” Mnuchin said. “I do think that more fiscal response is needed.”
Mnuchin told reporters on Capitol Hill that he planned to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, on Tuesday afternoon to talk about continuing the conversation over a new stimulus package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Monday on the Senate floor that Americans need more help in the form of stimulus packages.
On Tuesday, McConnell took the opportunity to hit back at Pelosi for refusing to back off of the more than $2 trillion plan Democrats want to see.
“Let’s hope our Democratic colleagues will finally let us make law in all the enormously important areas where we do not even disagree,” he said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
What no one mentioned was a $1,200 direct payment to adults in America. The bipartisan group’s budget framework did not include funds for a stimulus check.
Here is what was included in the bipartisan group’s stimulus framework:
- $106 billion: State, local and tribal governments
- $180 billion: Unemployment Insurance
- $288 billion: Paycheck Protection Program
- $12 billion: CDFI/MDI Community Lender Support
- $45 billion: Transportation
- $16 billion: Vaccine development and distribution
- $35 billion: Healthcare Provider relief
- $82 billion: Education
- $4 billion: Student loans
- $25 billion: Rental housing assistance
- $26 billion: Nutrition/Agriculture
- $10 billion: U.S. Postal Service
- $10 billion: Child care
- $10 billion: Broadband
- $5 billion: Opioid treatment
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