Senate GOP leader sticking with partisan virus relief plan

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claims it is time to "set partisanship aside" and get a deal done on a new coronavirus stimulus package.

"The additional relief that would help families, workers, schools, and small businesses cross the finish line has been held up for months while Democratic leaders pursued an all-or-nothing approach", McConnell said in a statement Tuesday.

"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", Pelosi and Schumer said. Republican Senator Susan Collins of ME has said that "it is absolutely essential that we pass emergency relief". And thirdly, if a bill is not passed by December 11th, there will be a government shutdown, ensuring that there will be a lapse in economic relief efforts and forcing the Biden administration to work from even farther behind.

And a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a split-the-difference solution to the protracted impasse over COVID-19 relief in a last-gasp effort to ship overdue help to a hurting nation before Congress adjourns for the holidays. But besides not including the $1,200 stimulus checks, it omitted provisions to revive the federal jobless payments and aid for local and state governments, The New York Times reported. It was a sign that some lawmakers across the spectrum are reluctant to adjourn for the year without approving some COVID aid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Mnuchin, Trump's top negotiator, spoke on Tuesday.

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The Democrats' preferred plan, which would cost more than $2 trillion. He later abandoned that effort for a considerably less costly measure that failed to advance in two attempts this fall.

"We are in a moment where we are hearing from our constituents from all walks of life about the importance of coming together to get people the relief they need to get through this winter a time when we are seeing cases spike, hospital beds full, our front-line workers exhausted", said Sen.

Pelosi and Mnuchin were discussing COVID relief and other end-of-session items, including a $1.4 trillion catchall government funding bill.

Speaking to reporters, Mnuchin said that they are primarily focused on the unfinished appropriations bill.

The new plan includes a liability shield for businesses and other organizations that have reopened their doors during the pandemic. But Senate GOP conservatives opposed their efforts and Pelosi refused to yield on key points. But his warnings of a wave of destructive lawsuits haven't been borne out, and it is sure to incite opposition from the trial lawyers' lobby, which retains considerable influence with top Democratic leaders. Talks on that measure are proceeding but if lawmakers should stumble, a temporary spending bill would be needed as a bridge into next year. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican, said the plan contains $560 billion in "repurposed" funding from the CARES Act enacted in March.

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