Pelosi and Schumer support a $ 908 billion bipartisan COVID proposal as a basis for negotiations

Washington – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer supported support for a two-party, two-chamber coronavirus eradication plan as the basis for future talks, and called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to join the multibillion-dollar aid package talks.

“While we made a new offer for Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in a spirit of compromise, we believe the senators’ bipartisan framework introduced yesterday should be used as a basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral talks,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement referring to Republican leadership in the House. and in the Senate.

The switch represents a significant concession on the part of democratic leaders who have been firmly in place for months for their need for a bill of more than $ 2 trillion.

It is unclear whether the White House supports it $ 908 billion plan MEPs made a proposal on Tuesday. Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin says President Trump will sign the narrower relief plan proposed by McConnell.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers unveiled their plan on Tuesday, which includes helping state and local governments, small businesses and unemployed Americans. Like McConnell’s bill, this proposal would not include another round of stimulus control.

The proposal would provide $ 160 billion to state and local governments and $ 288 billion to small businesses, including through the Paycheck Protection Program. It allocates $ 82 billion for education and $ 16 billion for vaccine development and distribution, as well as testing and exposure monitoring.

For unemployed Americans, the measure will set aside $ 180 billion to further secure unemployment. The plan also provides short-term liability insurance against coronavir lawsuits, a priority for McConnell.

“Of course, we and others offer improvements, but the need for action is immediate, and we believe we can reach an agreement through negotiations in good faith,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. “In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and in the hope of vaccination, it is time for leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a real, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country.”

McConnell’s plan is similar to the legislation he proposed earlier this year, which was a $ 500 billion targeted bill focused on financing small businesses, schools and accountability. Senate Democrats have twice blocked this bill, arguing that it is not free enough to help struggling Americans. McConnell hailed the proposal as a stop-stop that would not address all of the problems, but would help provide the help needed in the meantime.

McConnell’s bill would extend critical unemployment programs by just a month. It will extend pandemic unemployment benefits and pandemic emergency unemployment compensation programs until January 31, and another two months to phase out the programs. Both programs are expected to expire at the end of December.

However, the bill does not appear to include supplementary unemployment benefits. The bipartisan CARES law passed earlier this year made it possible to insure an additional $ 600 a week in addition to unemployment insurance. This provision expired at the end of July, and Congress was unable to negotiate an agreement to restore these popular benefits. It also does not include funding for state and local governments, which is a priority for Congressional Democrats.

Mnuchin told reporters on Wednesday that he thought Mr Trump would support the bill.

“The president will sign the McConnell proposal he put forward yesterday and we look forward to moving forward,” Mnuchin said at the Capitol before the hearing before the House Committee.

Mnuchin and Pelosi have been deadlocked since the summer. Negotiations continued this week. In a letter to Mnuchin in late October, Pelosi blamed the cause of the ongoing stalemate directly on the Trump administration, arguing that Democrats still had no word on compromise language for a strategic testing, follow-up and treatment plan, vaccinations and Obamacare coverage for Americans who they are without work.

The House passed a $ 2.2 trillion bill that Senate Republicans don’t see as a trigger. It is unclear how willing Pelosi would be to consider the narrow bill proposed by McConnell, given that Senate Democrats have twice blocked similar legislation in the past.

The calculations made by members of Congress are influenced by the needs of unemployed Americans, with hours of crucial aid programs expiring at the end of the year. Twelve million Americans will lose extended unemployment benefits by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, nearly 14 million Americans became infected with the coronavirus, and more than 270,000 Americans died from the virus.

Melissa Quinn contributed to the report.