December 22, 2020 - Douglas Myser

Congressional inaction may cause harm. Senators have taken to the airwaves to whip up support for a $908 billion COVID-19 rescue plan that merges elements from previous Democratic and Republican proposals into a compromise deal. The Bipartisan group of Senators who first announced the plan on December 1st is expected to present the final plan, soon after which negotiations could begin. Both parties indicate they're eyeing a vote before federal funding lapses on December 11th. The $908 billion proposal is seen as a last ditch effort to bring sorely needed economic aid like extra unemployment benefits and money for small businesses before the protections lapse on December 31, otherwise leaving tens of millions of Americans without any federal support for weeks, while hunger and evictions mount and COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths soar. Congressional inaction may cause harm.

"With so many of these initiatives from the first CARES package running out as soon as the day after Christmas, it would be what "I call stupidity on steroids if Congress doesn't act." Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia and member of the bipartisan group said. The proposal has provoked ire from members of Congress who adamantly support a second stimulus check, which the $908 billion framework does not include. "This is not a stimulus bill. It is a relief bill. And it is something for the next three or four months to help those in greatest need." said Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana. "There may be a stimulus check, but that would be part of a different piece of legislation."

The lack of a $1200 per person direct payment has emerged as a sticking  point for some, who have said they wil not support the bill without it. They also object to language that would protect businesses and certain institutions from coronavirus related lawsuits, a priority backed by Republicans.