Finance

Bipartisan group unveils new details on COVID-19 relief measure

A bipartisan group of House and Senate moderates on Wednesday circulated more details of their $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal, but their summary did not include more specifics on two key issues where there is disagreement between Democrats and Republicans.

The summary, obtained by The Hill, lacks details on the $160 billion that would be provided to state and local governments, as well as on liability protection for businesses. In both cases, the document says there are agreements in principle “as the basis for good faith negotiations.”

State and local aid is strongly supported by Democrats, but many Republicans have reservations. On the other hand, liability protection is a priority for Republicans but faces opposition from Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday afternoon suggested setting aside both issues and just passing a coronavirus relief package that includes other elements where there is more consensus.

But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who have said that the bipartisan proposal should serve as the basis for negotiations — blasted McConnell for proposing to leave out funding for state and local governments and argued that McConnell is undermining the bipartisan talks.

Later on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented to Pelosi a $916 billion proposal that includes state and local governments and liability protection. Schumer and Pelosi argued that Mnuchin’s proposal didn’t include enough funds for unemployment insurance.

While the new summary of the moderates’ proposal does not provide more details on state and local aid and liability protection, it does flesh out other parts of the outline that the authors of the proposal released last week.

Lawmakers involved in crafting the proposal include Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), as well as Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).

According to the new summary, the proposal would extend unemployment insurance programs that are set to expire at the end of the month for 16 weeks, and provide a $300 per week federal boost to benefits from the end of December into April.

The new summary also provides more details concerning the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program for small businesses.

According to the summary, the proposal would make businesses eligible for a second PPP loan if they have 300 or fewer employees and had revenue loss of 30 percent in any quarter in 2020. It also would make local chambers of commerce eligible for PPP loans, expand the types of expenses that PPP loans can be used for and be forgiven, and include set asides to ensure that the smallest businesses and businesses in underserved communities receive loans. Additionally, it would simplify the loan forgiveness process for businesses that received loans of $150,000 or less, and it would specify that businesses expenses paid with PPP loan proceeds are tax deductible.

In addition to including funds for the PPP, the bipartisan proposal would also include separate funding for live venue operators hurt by pandemic-related stay-at-home orders.

The proposal would extend the eviction moratorium until the end of January, and provide $25 billion in rental assistance to state and local and Native American tribes. It would extend student loan forbearance provisions through the end of April.

Other areas of the proposal where the summary offers details include funds for health care and education providers, vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracing, and food assistance.

Tags Bill Cassidy Charles Schumer federal aid to state and local governments Joe Manchin Josh Gottheimer Liability shield Mark Warner Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi pandemic relief Paycheck Protection Program ppp Steven Mnuchin Susan Collins Tom Reed

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