Moderates try again to spur virus relief deal

With their efforts at bipartisan compromise on extra relief for small businesses and individuals hit by the Coronavirus repeatedly blocked by leaders of both parties, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress tried again on Tuesday, unveiling a $908 billion stop gap aid bill and pleading for action on new on aid before the holidays.

“It would be stupidity on steroids if Congress left for Christmas without doing an interim package,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

“COVID has created a crisis,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). “And in a crisis, the people expect Congress to act.”

“We recognize that families all across America are struggling,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in a Capitol Hill news conference.

The plan includes money for extra unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs to the virus outbreak, a new $288 billion infusion of emergency aid for small businesses under the PPP program, relief for airlines, money for schools to deal with the virus, and aid to forestall layoffs in state and local governments.

Many of these same lawmakers have tried this same effort before, but have run into a wall of opposition from leaders of both parties; the hope is that might change, now that the elections are over.

The latest offer once again tries to split the difference between GOP lawmakers who are resisting extra spending, and Democrats who want more.

“It is time for emergency relief,” declared Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY).

House Democrats pushed through an over $3 trillion package of aid back in mid-May; the GOP Senate has resisted that plan and offered something much lower in terms of spending, but the Senate has never been able to vote on any alternative.

“We’re going to intend move this forward after months of failing to act,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“We’re not blaming anybody for why they haven’t come to an agreement,” Manchin said of the political dispute which has gone on for over six months. “It wasn’t enough, it was too much, whatever.”

Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau