- A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a $908 billion stimulus plan that contains federal unemployment benefits but omits another round of $1,200 direct payments for taxpayers.
- The plan also includes aid for strapped state and local governments.
- The compromise package represents a concerted effort to break the deadlock on Capitol Hill on another coronavirus relief plan, but its unclear whether it will gain traction.
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A bipartisan group of senators unveiled $908 billion stimulus plan on Tuesday aimed at breaking the monthslong deadlock on Capitol Hill.
The plan was introduced by a group of lawmakers that include Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine; and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.
“Our action to provide emergency relief is needed now more than ever before,” Manchin said at a press conference.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the plan includes:
- $300 federal weekly unemployment benefits for four months.
- $240 billion in state and local government funding.
- Six-month liability shield for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
But the compromise plan omitted another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, likely inan attempt to keep the plan’s price tag under $1 trillion. A previous effort from Republicans to unveil a stimulus package of that size failed in July because many GOP senators were reluctant to support a costly plan, pointing to the rising national debt.
Both Democrats and President Donald Trump support a second wave of direct payments for taxpayers.
Lawmakers have not passed another coronavirus relief bill since the spring when Congress pumped over $3 trillion to support individuals and businesses as the economy collapsed under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic. Negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats ultimately went nowhere over the summer and in the runup to the election.
Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has touted a $500 billion relief plan that emphasizes funding for schools, public health systems and small businesses. But Democrats blocked it twice and argue it’s not enough to address the dual economic and health crises.
The Trump administration has largely pulled out of the relief talks and put McConnell in charge.
Most economists say the economy is in need of additional government support and that the rising debt should be set aside for now. Nearly 12 million people are at risk of losing all their jobless aid the day after Christmas if Congress doesn’t step in. Other protections such as an eviction moratorium and a deferral of student loan payments are also expiring next month.
However, some conservatives argue the US economy is recovering on its own, citing the unemployment rate which has fallen from a high of 14.7% in April to its current level of 6.9%.
“We don’t need another trillion dollar spending bill, the economy is growing much faster than everyone thought,” Steve Moore, an outside economic advisor to President Donald Trump, told Business Insider. “The stock market is booming and the only thing that’s holding down the economy is these blue states that locking down their businesses.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday urged a compromise as congressional leaders face increasing pressure to pass another relief package as coronavirus cases surge nationwide.
“Both sides must give. We have a Democratic House, and in the Senate there is a need for Democratic votes to pass any bill,” Schumer said in a Senate floor speech on Tuesday. “So we need a true bipartisan bill— not this is our bill, take it or leave it — that can bring us together and solve the desperate needs of the American people, which we all very much want to solve.”