Pelosi, Schumer back bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal as basis for new negotiations

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer backed the $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief proposal Wednesday as a foundation for new negotiations.

In a joint statement, they called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, to formally restart negotiations between the party leaders.

“While we made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations,” they wrote. “With the imminent availability of the vaccine, it is important for there to be additional funding for distribution to take the vaccine to vaccination.”

This bipartisan proposal would provide $160 billion for state and local governments, $288 billion for small business assistance and the Paycheck Protection Program, along with short-term protections for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.

There would also be more funds to provide $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits through March and $16 billion for vaccine distribution.

On Tuesday, Mr. McConnell circulated a much more targeted approach that is similar to the $500 billion package put on the floor earlier this year, and would extend enhanced unemployment benefits by one month, according to a leaked copy of the proposal.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Wednesday that the president is willing to get behind the Senate GOP proposal, but wouldn’t comment on his opinions about the other two options.

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