WASHINGTON (UPI) — A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday introduced a two-part COVID-19 stimulus bill totaling $908 billion as they seek to end months of deadlock in Congress over the measure.
The group of about 12 senators from both parties introduced the measure including a $748 billion package focused on funding for education, vaccines, and transportation, alongside a $160 billion add-on including the most contentious provisions such as state and local funding and a short-term liability shield for employers.
Debate to take place as to which stimulus packages will stay
After introducing the bill Monday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it would be up to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to determine what portions of the bill can successfully pass through both chambers of Congress.
“What we’ve been able to do is give to leadership, as they’re moving through in these final days, a ready-made, negotiated product,” said Murkowski. “You’ve got your gift, take it.”
Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer backed the bipartisan plan earlier this month, but Democrats have largely pushed for the inclusion of state and local funding while opposing liability protections.
McConnell on the other hand had called for Congress to ditch both provisions in favor of passing a bill quickly before lawmakers wrap up their legislative session Friday.
Cornyn: ‘Negotiate a four-corners agreement’
“The best way to do that at this late date is to negotiate a four-corners agreement,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. “My understanding is they are looking at what the bipartisan group has come up with and a lot of it is good stuff, for potential inclusion in the year-end spending bill.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., warned that he would oppose any agreement that did not include direct payments to Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 per child.
“If the United States government wants the American people to have faith in their government in this time of emergency, it has got to respond,” said Sanders.
Reporting by Daniel Uria
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