Hill’s leaders negotiate the latest relief plan as Democrats may be forced to forgo state and local aid

With Capitol Hill leaders racing to Finish the huge spending bill To keep the government open last Friday, there were clear signals on Monday that the Democrats would have to forgo paying at least $ 160 billion in aid to cash-strapped states and cities in order to secure a bipartisan deal where some of the relief provisions could be. . Added to the measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to say that aid was a red line for them in talks. During a 22-minute phone call Monday evening, the spokesperson told Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin that the Republican Party’s insistence on including lawsuit protection for companies and other entities “remains an obstacle” to securing an agreement on state and domestic aid – with Republicans demanding that the two be tied together.

Two prominent Democratic sources familiar with the talks told CNN that government and local aid is unlikely to turn into an epidemic relief package.

Republicans will only accept state and local aid if paired Liability protectionWhich the Democrats did not want to support.

Even a minority in Senate Webb Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, negotiated for weeks with a group of bipartisan MPs who unveiled their plan on Monday, conceding that dropping state and local aid might be the only way to reach a deal. “I can tell you after I spent two weeks on it, it’s a challenge.”

If aid is ultimately dropped from the plan, it will be a major concession from the Democrats, who have provided nearly $ 1 trillion to help states and cities as part of a plan worth more than $ 3 trillion. That passed the House of Representatives in May And that the Senate did not think about that. Democrats argued that money is critical to ensuring that workers who perform vital services – from first responders to health care workers – can keep talking while at work.

Before the election, Pelosi and Mnuchin were unable to reach an agreement on a broad package, even as the White House increased its width to the north from $ 1.5 trillion. The final deal could be under $ 800 billion, although the terms are still subject to negotiation.

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To get a deal this week, Republicans are likely to concede by dropping liability protections for companies and others facing potential lawsuits during the pandemic, but Republican leaders have already shown willingness to drop the issue in this round of talks.

Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that Democrats should abandon the state and local government request for aid, which many Republicans oppose, while Republicans abandon their demand for liability protections, which Democrats have opposed, in an attempt to move forward and pass More The targeted bill will focus on compliance provisions.

Senior Democrats have not publicly embraced the call, but Pelosi has not said the state and local aid amounted to a deal breaker for the Democrats as part of the relief talks when asked by CNN, saying on Monday, “We are in negotiations.”

A Pelosi spokesperson tweeted Monday evening that Pelosi had spoken with Mnuchin about pandemic relief and the status of a comprehensive government funding bill, and “regarding COVID, the House Speaker reiterated Democrats’ concerns about liability provisions, which remain an obstacle to securing the state. “.

House and Senate designers plan to unveil a $ 1.4 trillion spending bill Tuesday to fund federal agencies through the end of September 2021, giving Congress little margin for error to avoid the shutdown by midnight Friday when funding expires. If an agreement on Covid Relief could be reached, it would be attached to the funding bill and passed at the same time.

A bipartisan group of legislators It unveiled the legislative text for a $ 908 billion Covid relief plan on Monday, dividing it into two bills, one dealing with thorny issues related to state and domestic aid and liability protection, and the other focusing on provisions that are expected to garner broad bipartisan support. The bipartisan bill that deals with thorny issues of state and domestic aid and liability protection, the plan will provide a total of $ 160 billion in state, local and tribal aid.

Of that, there will be $ 152 billion for state and local governments as part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund. A third of this $ 152 billion will be allocated based on the state’s population, while two-thirds will be awarded on the basis of individual state revenue losses.

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With regard to liability protection, the plan lays out a nationwide “gross negligence standard for exposure to COVID-19, medical malpractice, and workplace testing claims.”

The framework summary for the two-party package released last week indicates that it will extend all epidemic unemployment programs for an additional 16 weeks and increase federal supplemental unemployment insurance benefits by $ 300 per week during that time period.

14 million American families are at risk of eviction as protection measures expire
It will also allow small businesses devastated by the epidemic the opportunity to obtain another loan that can be canceled through Paycheck Protection Program.

Now, Congressional leaders will have to contemplate a bipartisan plan and decide soon on whether they can put together a pandemic relief package or risk a collapse in efforts to negotiate much-needed relief as the pandemic spreads.

Whip John Thune, a majority in the Senate, signaled optimism about the bipartisan deal on Monday, saying, “I think it’s ultimately heading in the right direction.”

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said he expects there will be “something very tangible” in the government spending bill by midweek so that Congress can leave by the end of the week, and has suggested that he expects the bill to include revised parts of the relief bill. Bipartisan from Covid-19, though provisions for state and domestic assistance and liability protection are likely to be excluded.

“What additional things are included (in the spending bill), from the bipartisan relief bill Covid-19, I don’t know for sure. But I think everything except for the really controversial parts, which are government and (domestic) aid and reforms the responsibility “.

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And the bipartisan group of lawmakers made it clear at a news conference on Monday that Congressional leadership must now reach an agreement on what happens next.

“Now it’s up to the leadership (to) make this happen at the appropriate time,” said Democratic Senator Joe Mansheen of West Virginia.

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