Bipartisan group to propose two-part coronavirus relief package

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Splitting the bill could increase the likelihood that a relief package could be finalized before Congress leaves for vacation – which is deemed essential with 12 million Americans expected to lose their unemployment benefits in the weeks to come. come. No relief coronavirus legislation has been enacted since the spring, although the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in terms of lives, hospitalizations and economic distress.

Earlier Sunday, Cassidy and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said the bipartisan negotiating group would present their $ 908 billion bill on Monday. Manchin framed the proposal as an emergency measure that would help the country survive the first quarter of 2021, a three-month period that he said would be the most “difficult” first quarter the United States has ever been to. faced.

The West Virginia Democrat noted that the bipartisan group of lawmakers and their staff have been meeting regularly since last month, including a call on Saturday and an upcoming call on Sunday to “get it done.”

“At the end of the day this bill has many parts, and in the spirit of compromise you have to work on all of this,” Manchin told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”. “But in the end, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. “

Cassidy called the forthcoming bill “the only bipartisan game in town,” echoing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s reference to those talks as “the only real game in town.” .

“We’re the one where people from both sides got together and said, ‘Look, I’m not with you on this, but if you give me this, I’ll give it to you because we have to do something to the American people, ”Cassidy told Jake Tapper on CNN’s“ State of the Union ”.

He acknowledged, however, that “what Chief McConnell decides to do, I have no control over” and that “others may decide whether or not to accept our work product.”

The senses. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) And Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Are also calling for a vote on a new round of direct checks on Americans, which will further complicate the week ahead.

Also on Sunday, a Democratic House leader suggested the party might be willing to support a coronavirus relief program without aid to states and local governments, potentially ceding a Democratic priority in pursuing a bipartisan deal.

“In the legislative process, no one ever gets everything they want,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN’s Abby Phillip on “Inside Politics”. “And, in fact, when you have a divided government and a divided Congress, it’s extremely important that we take care of these very, very important goals, even if we don’t get everything on either side.” that we want.

Hoyer admitted that while Democrats believe state and local aid is “critically important”, other policies are “critically important as well.”

“If we can get that, we want to get it, but we want to help people who are really, really struggling and at great risk,” Hoyer said. “Life is a series of trade-offs and give-and-take, but we have to make sure we get the very important money for health, unemployment, small businesses, vaccine delivery, school, childcare. , every deal that forged – the bipartisan accord forged by senators and problem solvers in our own chamber, and by members of both the chamber and the Senate.

Manchin said that after the text of the bill is released, his congressional colleagues “can choose whether you like it or not” and “vote for or against.” And he lamented the possibility for lawmakers to take “the easy way” of abandoning the more contentious issues – liability protections and state and local assistance – to avoid “a difficult vote.”

“We did what this place is supposed to do,” Manchin said, referring to bipartisan negotiators. “We worked together. We did not work separately, we condemned each other and pointed the finger at each other.

But will their measure pass later this week, when Congress faces a government funding deadline?

“There are no guarantees,” Manchin said, noting that Congress consists of 535 voting members. “I cannot guarantee that they will all vote for and adopt it, but I can tell you one thing: what is the alternative? What are you going to do? “

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