COVID relief package falters AGAIN as bipartisan group in Congress trying to come up with compromise delay deal
- A bipartisan group of lawmakers look less and less likely to debut the text of their $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus package on Monday
- CNN reported that Republican and Democrats still can’t agree on two issues they’ve been bickering about for months
- Republicans want lawsuit protections included in the package, while Democrats want money for cash-strapped state and local governments
- The group, which includes members of the Senate and House from both parties, had hoped to roll out the bill text sometime Monday
- There’s still no guarantee that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would back the bill
A bipartisan group of lawmakers look less and less likely to debut the text of their COVID-19 stimulus deal Monday, as sticking points remain.
Lawmakers involved had aimed to release the text on Monday, but by mid-afternoon Wednesday looked more likely, Politico said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sen. Mark Warner (left), a Virginia Democrat, and Sen. Bill Cassidy (right), a Louisiana Republican are nearing a COVID-19 relief package deal
Lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin (center) gathered last week to announce their framework last week. The bill is looking less and less likely to be released Monday
Sen. Joe Manchin (left), Sen. Bill Cassidy (center) and Rep. Fred Upton are among the group of bipartisan lawmakers hatching the package
There’s no guarantee that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right) will back the bipartisan plans once it’s revealed
Republicans on Capitol Hill – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – have long wanted businesses shielded from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
The thinking, according to CNN, is that either both items get dropped from the $908 billion package – or the lawmakers strike an agreement on both of them.
The group includes Democrats and Republicans from both the House and Senate, including Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican.
Warner articulated what had been agreed on during an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Sunday.
The package ‘will give targeted relief for the unemployed, for people in food insecurity, rental assistance, small businesses that have run out of their funds and additional funds to those minority businesses that have been extraordinarily hit hard,’ Warner said.
‘We put additional assistance in finally for broadband, which we all know is an academic necessity and additional dollars around the vaccine distribution, assistance for hospitals,’ he continued.
Additional stimulus checks are still not included in the package, but that could change. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, has encouraged President Donald Trump to veto the package if stimulus checks aren’t added.
Cassidy said on Fox News Sunday that the bill’s final language would ‘probably come out early this week – earlier this week.’
He expressed that Trump would back it.
‘President Trump has indicated that he would sign a $908 billion package,’ Cassidy said. ‘There’s only one $908 billion package out there – that’s ours.’
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat and part of the group, explained on NBC News Sunday that the group had formed after the November 3 election to get something done on COVID-19 relief.
‘Well it’s a deal that must come together. We don’t have a choice now. It’s one of those things that has to be done,’ Manchin said.
Even if the group unsticks the last two items, there’s no guarantee that McConnell or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will back it.
Government funding runs out Friday, so the House and Senate are expected to pass a week-long extension, to buy them more time.
This could allow lawmakers to thread the needle on a COVID package – or the extra time could doom it once Americans discover what’s in it.
‘It’s more time for people to get cold feet,’ one aide working on the negotiations told CNN. ‘Sooner we can get it out the door, the better.’