As the legislative stalemate continues on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has unveiled a more than $900 billion stimulus relief package. The package comes amid stalled efforts to pass additional aid – members of the House and Representatives and the Senate have not held formal stimulus talks since Election Day – and marks a last-ditch effort to pass relief legislation before Congress recesses for the holidays.
Unveiled on Tuesday, the $908 billion bill aims to address the expiration of key economic aid programs. According to CNBC, a draft of the proposal includes $288 billion in Paycheck Protection Program small business loans, $160 billion in state and local government aid, and funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. Politico reports that the bill also includes $82 billion for schools, $45 billion for transportation, and $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance, which is set to expire in late December. It would also provide $16 billion into vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, and also provide funding for rental assistance, child care, and broadband. It does not, however, include a second round of stimulus payments, something that has received support even from President Donald Trump.
The bill was headed by a bipartisan group including Sens. Joe Manchin, Susan Collins, Mark Warner, Bill Cassidy, Jeanne Shaheen, Lisa Murkowski, Angus King, Mitt Romney and Maggie Hassan, as well as House members. Democrat Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia called the bill an "interim package" to provide support until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. As he prepared for his inauguration, Biden has laid out plans for a stimulus bill, though some details remain unclear.
At this time, it is unknown if the newest $900 billion proposal will be brought for a vote in both chambers of Congress or if it would have enough support to pass. Although the bill was created on a bipartisan basis, it includes provisions that Republicans and Democrats have strongly opposed. Democrats have opposed liability protections and have also pushed for a $600 per week supplemental jobless benefit, a number that Republicans have rallied against. Republicans have also pushed against new state and local aid. The price tag of the bill may also prove controversial. While it is below the $1 trillion mark, which Republicans have aimed for, many Democrats have expressed a belief that a bill with a much larger total is necessary to address the current crisis.
The proposal comes as there are just two weeks left on the legislative calendar. The House of Representatives is scheduled to begin their vacation after Dec. 10, with the Senate closing their current session on Dec. 18. CNN notes that it is possible the two chambers could remain on Capitol Hill longer in an effort to reach a stimulus agreement before Christmas.