A bipartisan group of senators will introduce a broad coronavirus aid framework on Tuesday, a significant breakthrough after months of failed negotiation. But it’s just the first step toward Congress finally approving a new round of aid.
The legislation would provide $908 billion in aid and also shield businesses from coronavirus lawsuits for a few months to allow states to develop their own liability reforms. The proposal includes $160 billion in state and local aid, $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance and $288 billion for small businesses. It also has $82 billion for schools as well as $45 billion for transportation, according to a draft reviewed by POLITICO. It also includes money for health care.
It will be introduced on Tuesday morning by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), as well as House members. Separately, some other senators have held bipartisan discussions about a solution.
Still, the newest measure is no lay-up, and several congressional aides said the likeliest route to a new round of aid is through Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Congress has not enacted a new significant round of aid since April.
McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have both called for more coronavirus relief, but GOP senators said if there is an aid package, it’s unlikely to be attached to the spending bill due by Dec. 11. That means it’s still uncertain whether Congress can actually clinch a new law before the end of the lame duck.