UPDATED 3:10 PM PT – Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Lawmakers come closer to passing an economic stimulus package.
On Tuesday, Congress met to discuss the contents of a bipartisan bill that was introduced earlier this week. The $748 billion bill would include funding for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as a $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits.
“I think it is in the oven, being baked as we speak,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said. (R-S.C) “And I hope it comes out soon.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers scrapped a $160 billion add-on, which would provide aid to local governments and business liability protection. Instead, Congress is looking at using the money to send a second round of stimulus checks to Americans.
Though a number has not been confirmed, Republican negotiators have proposed a $600 stimulus check, or about half the amount sent under the CARES Act earlier this year. Still, this marks a victory for both Democrats and Republicans as many lawmakers said stimulus checks must be included to get their approval.
“I’m not going to vote for any COVID relief if it does not include direct assistance to working families,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) stated. “I don’t care what else is in it. It does not have my support.”
Congress continued negotiations Wednesday and vowed to stay on Capitol Hill until a deal gets passed.
“The American people need more help, it’s that simple,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated. “Further targeted relief is now months overdue.”
McConnell added that vaccine distribution money is necessary, in addition to a re-up of the Paycheck Protection Program to save jobs.
“We need to continue to provide for laid-off Americans,” McConnell noted. “Congressional leaders on both sides are going to continue until we get this done. ”
While lawmakers continue negotiations on an economic stimulus bill, Congress is racing to pass a government spending bill for 2021 to avoid a government shutdown.
Lawmakers have until Friday to pass spending legislation.