December 14, 2020

Bipartisan senators split their coronavirus proposal into 2 bills, both without stimulus checks
After months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of centrist senators is preparing to unveil its COVID-19 stimulus proposal on Monday. The group is set to split its proposal into two bills: a $748 billion package containing universally popular measures, and a $160 billion bill that is more controversial, The Washington Post reports. The bigger package would renew unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the year, extend a new round of small business aid, and boost funding for vaccine distribution, transportation, and education. The smaller one includes state and local aid, as well as a so-called "liability shield" for employers that every Democrat except Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has opposed. The shield would protect businesses from being sued over coronavirus-related medical problems. But whatever they come up with, another, much smaller group of bipartisan senators might prove problematic. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are demanding the bill include another round of stimulus checks. Sanders told Politico he'll urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reject the bipartisan bill over its failure to do so, pointing out that Democrats had pushed for $3.4 trillion in new relief funding, but the bipartisan bill includes just $188 billion in new spending. It largely repurposes unused funding from previous bills. Sanders' progressive allies have refused to vote for a bill without stimulus payments, and Hawley has pushed the White House to adopt them as well.

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