Washington, Dec 1 (efe-epa).- A group of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday presented a proposal for a new stimulus package valued at $908 billion to help alleviate the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
More than a dozen legislators from both parties announced the initiative after the dialogue between the outgoing Republican administration of Donald Trump and Democratic leaders in Congress stalled before the Nov. 3 election, in which Democrat Joe Biden defeated the president in the latter’s reelection bid.
The plan would revive the unemployment benefit by providing $300 per week to those who have lost their jobs, less than the $600 initially proposed by the Democrats.
The $600 per week jobless benefit that had been included in the CARES Act expired earlier in 2020.
That benefit has been one of the sticking points between the negotiating team of progressive lawmakers, headed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and administration representatives, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The new proposal also includes $288 billion in help for small businesses, as well as $160 billion in assistance for state and local governments. The latter feature has been one of the priority elements for Democrats, but Trump has opposed it.
The package also allocated $16 billion to the distribution of vaccines, testing and contact tracing of Covid-19 cases, $82 billion to education and $45 billion for the transportation sector, including airlines, Amtrak and others.
“It’s not the time for political brinkmanship,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said at a press conference on Tuesday.
He also said that it would be, in effect, unforgivable for Congress to wrap up its yearly activities next week without arriving at an accord to implement another stimulus package.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said that Americans “urgently” need the aid the bill provides.
On Nov. 14, Trump – who still has not acknowledged his election defeat, claiming despite the lack of evidence that massive vote fraud was what denied him an outright and overwhelming victory over Biden – urged Congress to approve a new stimulus package.
Local media had expected that, when the negotiations resumed, it would be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also has not acknowledged Biden’s win, who would head the talks while the White House would be relegated to a subordinate role.
The US is the country that has been hardest hit by the pandemic, with 13.5 million confirmed cases and 268,000 deaths, according to the independent tally being kept by The Johns Hopkins University.