WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives announced a COVID-19 emergency relief framework Tuesday morning.
The proposed legislation would provide about $908 billion in aid, with $160 billion going to state and local governments. It also includes $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance and $288 billion for small businesses.
The lawmakers say the bicameral framework will help American students, families, businesses, workers and health care providers during the COVID-19 crisis.
The plan is designed to last until about March 31, or the end of the first financial quarter.
“This four-month COVID-19 emergency relief package will help us get through the hardest months of winter and into a new administration,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) during a press conference announcing the legislation. “It’s an essential down payment in what our families, small businesses and local communities need.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) stressed that the proposal isn't a stimulus bill and explained that much of the funding will be repurposed from the CARES Act.
“This is not a $1.8 trillion stimulus bill. This is a relief measure, half that amount, $908 billion," said Romney. "I would note that of that fund, $560 billion is money repurposed from the first CARES Act, so the amount of new money is actually $348 billion.”
Romney also said liability protection is included in the bill and argued that it's critical.
“We did negotiate a liability provision that provides a temporary moratorium, a temporary suspension, of any liability-related lawsuits at the state or federal level that are associated with COVID, giving states enough time to put in their own protections. And let me note that any state that doesn’t put in place protections hasn’t been thinking this through very carefully, because if I was a CEO, I would never think about putting a new business in a state that didn’t have liability protections for COVID.”
U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) were also among the lawmakers who worked on the plan and presented it Tuesday.
The proposal, which does not include another round of stimulus checks, comes after months of failed negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders to pass another stimulus bill to help the American people during the current wave of coronavirus cases.
The proposed $908 billion plan was broken up as follows:
- State, local and tribal governments – $160 billion
- Additional unemployment insurance, $180 billion
- Support for smalls businesses, including Paycheck Protection Program, EIDL, restaurants, stages and deductibility – $288 billion
- CDFI, MDI Community Lender Support – $12 billion
- Transportation (airlines, airports, buses, transit, and Amtrak) – $45 billion
- Vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracing – $16 billion
- Healthcare provider relief fund – $35 billion
- Education – $82 billion
- Student loans – $4 billion
- Housing assistance (rental) – $25 billion
- Nutrition/Agriculture – $26 billion
- U.S. Postal Service – $10 billion
- Child care – $10 billion
- Broadband – $10 billion
- Opioid treatment – $5 billion