News Dec 03, 2020 11:12 AM EST

Pelosi, Schumer Back Bipartisan $908B COVID-19 Relief Proposal as Starting Point for Talks

By Madz D.

The top Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer embraced a $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal on Wednesday.

Pelosi, Schumer Back Bipartisan $908B COVID-19 Relief Proposal as Starting Point for Talks
(Photo : Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Negotiations For New Coronavirus Relief Package Continue At The Capitol WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 07: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speak to members of the press after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at the U.S. Capitol August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were unable to reach a deal on a new relief package to help people weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) backed bipartisan $908 billion coronavirus relief framework, a massive concession meant to prod the Senate Republicans and President Trump into accepting a compromise and potentially building the momentum of the plan.

According to the Washington Post, Nancy Pelosi and Charles E. Schumer said in a statement that they believed that the bipartisan proposal framework proposed by the Senators should be used as the basis for bicameral negotiations. 

Before Wednesday, the Republican and Democratic leaders squared off for several months insisting on bills the other party would not accept.

Pelosi's and Schumer's announcement on Wednesday seemed to be the first time that the party leaders approved to back the proposal that had substantial support from the members. Days before lawmakers set to break for the holidays and after the President-elect Joe Biden urged the Congress to pass "immediate relief," the move came. 

The proposal with roughly $908 billion was introduced this week by the bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers. The relief proposal's price was still almost a trillion dollars, less than Pelosi and Democrats' urging for and more than what the Republican leaders are willing to sign off on.

Read also: Stimulus Package 2: Pelosi, Schumer Urges McConnell to Revamp Talks

ABC News reported that the relief bill's framework includes $160 billion in state and local government relief, $180 billion to fund a $300 per week supplemental unemployment benefit, and $288 billion in small business aid.

The bipartisan relief proposal also provides $16 billion for vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, funnels, $45 billion for transportation, and $82 billion into education. It allocates as well as funds for rental assistance, broadband, and child care.

However, the proposal does not include direct payment to most Americans and would offer temporary federal protection from COVID-19 related lawsuits, even if Democrats strongly oppose a broad liability shield.

It's yet to verify if the proposal is ready for a vote on the Senate or House floor, or if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would commit to calling it up for a vote. In response to the bipartisan proposal, McConnell told the reporters on Tuesday, "We just don't have time to waste time."

Meanwhile, Senator Mitt Romney told reporters that the bipartisan group would conduct a virtual meeting later Wednesday to continue discussing the compromise bill's details. Romney reiterated that the group is aware of the limited time the lawmakers have to propose legislation. 

Besides, he noted that he and the other members aim to stay in town to work and be available for negotiations through the weekend. 

Some Republicans welcomed Pelosi and Schumer's support for the relief proposal. Senate Majority Whip John Thune said, "That's definitely progress. It's a move in the right direction and I think hopefully it'll be helpful in us getting a deal done."

Read also: Second Stimulus: Biden, Democrats Push Pelosi Toward Accepting a Smaller Bill

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