As the first vaccines are rolled out across the country, Americans await relief from the pandemic’s economic toll.
On Monday (December 14), a group of Republican and Democrat senators unveiled their coronavirus relief proposal.
According to a report by Huffington Post, the plan offers relief to families who are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic, but it’s unclear if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will reach an agreement ahead of a critical deadline.
The highly-anticipated relief package is actually two bills. The proposal was split into two bills to tackle the main issues that delayed negotiations between Congress members for months.
One bill includes financial provisions for vaccine distribution, an additional $300 billion for a business loan program favored by Republicans, and a 16-week federal unemployment assistance extension that would give people on unemployment an additional $300 per week.
The cost of this bill totals $748 billion which is significantly less than the $2.2 trillion Democrats passed in the House back in October, and the $3 trillion package passed in May of this year.
The second bill has $160 billion for local and state governments, a win for Democrats in the group. It also includes a liability shield for businesses that reopen during the pandemic, though the language is not exactly what McConnell originally pushed for.
He wanted a four-year ban on coronavirus lawsuits to protect employers who bring employees back to work during the pandemic. The bill, instead, has a compromise for a ban on coronavirus-related lawsuits from December 2019 until a year after the law is enacted or when the end of the emergency is announced. Only the only Democrat who backed this language was West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, meaning, it may not make it into the final version of the proposal.
Congressional leaders will have the final say about what goes into the relief package, but the group hopes it offers a place to start getting relief to Americans.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins said, “My hope is that our hard work will spur our leadership on both sides of the aisle… to take our products and use them as the basis for a COVID relief package that is urgently needed by our struggling families.”
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