Bipartisan Group Formally Unveils Stimulus Proposal, After Separating Out Local Govt. Aid and Business Liability Shield

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Dec 15, 2020
A bipartisan group of lawmakers formally unveiled their proposal for a new pandemic aid measure after carving out the most contentious aspects—aid to state, local and tribal governments and a broad liability shield for employers—into a smaller bill separate from the main part of the bill, according to MarketWatch.

The main measure, a $748 billion package,  looks much like a smaller, lighter version of the CARES Act. Like the CARES Act, it supplements unemployment payments, but only with a $300 rather than the previous $600 boost and only for 16 weeks; the student loan forbearance will be extended until April 1; and the eviction moratorium will continue until Jan. 31. The bill also contains new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), adding $300 billion into the program meant for small local businesses, along with a simplified forgiveness process for loans of under $150,000. The bill also has $45 billion for transportation, including assistance for airlines, airports, buses, Amtrak and transit; it also will give $54 billion in aid to kindergarten through 12th grade schools, and $20 billion for colleges and universities.

The other piece of the package contains $160 billion in aid to state, local and tribal governments, as well as broad legal liability protections for employers. Democrats have long wanted the former but not the latter while Republicans have wanted the latter but not the former. These points were seen as slowing down overall work toward getting an aid package passed.

Missing are the $1,200 direct stimulus payments. This absence has rankled other lawmakers on both the left and the right. Self-described democratic socialist and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) urged his colleagues to include the payments in the bill, putting him in company with, of all people, Republican Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) who said if the payments weren't included, he'd introduce his own bill to enable them. The Hill said the two have come to embrace their "odd couple" status in this fight and have threatened to hold up the bill and keep lawmakers in Washington over the Christmas break. 

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