House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are backing a $908 billion bipartisan proposal introduced by a group of lawmakers on Tuesday as a way to restart negotiations.
“In the spirit of compromise, we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations,” they said in a letter on Wednesday. “Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement.”
Their support comes as the two parties began exchanging offers again after talks stalled before the election. Pelosi and Schumer sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) a new stimulus offer with an undisclosed price on Monday evening, with Schumer calling it “a private proposal to help us move the ball forward.”
The $908 billion bipartisan proposal the Democratic leaders support has a significantly lower price tag than the $2.2 trillion version of the HEROES Act they were pushing throughout the most recent phase of negotiations.
The compromise proposal includes $160 billion for state and local governments, $180 billion for additional unemployment benefits, $288 billion for a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, short-term liability, among other provisions.
The proposal doesn’t include a second round of stimulus checks, a provision supported by the White House and Democrats in the previous phase of the stimulus negotiations.
Only $348 billion in the bipartisan proposal would be new funding; the other $560 billion would be repurposed from the CARES Act.
‘That bipartisan coalition is only nine people’
McConnell unveiled his own $333 billion stimulus proposal on Tuesday, similar to the two previous bills he introduced in September and October, both of which were rejected in the Senate. Schumer said that McConnell’s most recent proposal “will be even more insufficient than the previous two attempts.”
When asked about the compromise proposal on Tuesday, McConnell said that “we just don't have time to waste time.”
“The place to start is, are we actually making a law or are we just making a point,” he said. “The way you make a law for sure is you've got a presidential signature.”
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McConnell said his proposal is a way to quickly pass relief in the lame-duck session and that it’s a package that will likely be supported by the president. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed on Wednesday that President Trump would sign McConnell’s most recent proposal.
The bipartisan proposal is supported by four Republican and five Democratic senators, which are not enough Republicans to put pressure on the party to reach an agreement or enough additional votes for a bill to pass in the Senate, according to Mark Harkins, a former congressional staffer and senior fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute.
"That bipartisan coalition is only nine people,” he told Yahoo Money. “If you had a partisan deal on one side or the other, and those people came with you, you're still looking at 53 to 56 votes. That's still not 60.”