The bipartisan group on Capitol Hill working on the $908 billion coronavirus package circulated a new, further developed summary on Wednesday, showing that the trade off between state and local funding and liability protections remain a sticking point.
The six-page outline delves deeper into the breakdown of funds than the framework released last week, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Times. Lawmakers have been working since last week to turn the proposal into legislative text.
Unemployment benefits will be given a 16-week extension from their set expiration date in December, and there will be $300 per week enhanced unemployment payments.
The proposal also sets aside $300 billion for the small business Paycheck Protection Program to allow for a second round of funds, with only businesses with 300 or fewer employees eligible.
Though state and local government funding still has a $160 billion allocation, both that issue and liability protection are described as an “agreement in principle as the basis for good faith negotiations.”
There is also no direct payments in the framework, despite vocal pushback from Democrats and a handful of Republicans.
Sen. Angus King, Maine independent, is one of the members of this “908 coalition” and told reporters he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, are making progress on their liability proposal and aim to release details later on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to endorse the bipartisan package as a starting point, though the Republican senators spearheading the effort — Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Susan Collins of Maine — met with him last week to go over the proposal in more detail.
Earlier this week, Mr. Cassidy told reporters that the compromise hinges on a deal for state and local funding with liability protections.
“Maybe the whole deal goes,” he said, when asked about liability protections being potentially dropped. “I want a deal.”
The two issues — opposing top priorities for Democrats and Republicans — have been at the center of collapsed COVID relief deals since the summer.
The new details of the bipartisan package comes after the Trump administration offered a $916 billion proposal that would include liability protections, state and local government funding, a $600 direct payment, but also cuts to unemployment benefits.
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, accused Democrats of obstructing a deal for not accepting the $916 billion proposal, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has urged lawmakers to hold out for more results from the bipartisan coalition.
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