WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOWK/CBS) – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) joined members from both political parties and both chambers of Congress Tuesday to unveil a $908 billion COVID-19 relief plan they want to see passed before the end of the year.
The plan is seen as a stop-gap to help provide some assistance as several key relief measures are set to expire December 31st.
Among the programs expiring is a nationwide moritorium on evictions by landlords announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig workers, freelancers and the self-employed and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program which gives an extra 13 weeks of benefits to those who’s state unemployment has run out.
“We’re battling COVID-19 more fiercely now than we ever have before, we recognize that, and it’s inexcusable for us to leave town without an agreement,” said Manchin at a mid-morning news conference announcing the plan. He added that it’s “not the time for political brinkmanship.”
The plan includes $160 billion for state and local governments facing declining revenue from business shutdowns. It also has $288 billion, including Paycheck Progection Program money, for small businesses. The measure also allocates $82 billion for education, $16 billion for vaccine development, distributing, testing and contact tracing and an additional $180 billion for additional unemployment insurance.
The measure does not include another round of stimulus checks for the general public.
The package also includes limited liability protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says is a must for any package to get approval in the Senate.
The package is seen as a compromise between the $2.2 trillion measure passed by the House and rejected by the Seante and a $500 billion measure proposed by McConnell but blocked twice by Senate Democrats as inadequate.
Co-sponsors include seven members from both parties in the House and nine members of the Senate including Republicans Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).