Dec. 3 (UPI) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday put their support behind a $908 billion pandemic relief bill, seeking to end months of congressional deadlock.
In a joint statement, the pair of Democratic leaders backed the plan introduced Tuesday by a group of bipartisan lawmakers led by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, after months of struggling to provide additional relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we made a new offer to [Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell] and [House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy] on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate partisan, bicameral negotiations,” they wrote.
The $908 billion measure calls for $288 billion in small-business support and $180 billion for extended unemployment insurance, among other fiscal appropriations.
It costs less than half of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by the House more than six months ago but is nearly double the $500 billion “skinny” relief bill backed by McConnell.
McConnell on Tuesday opposed passing the $908 billion bill and said he planned to send his own proposal to senators to get feedback.
In their statement, Pelosi and Schumer cited surging coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as they called for urgency in passing the bill.
“In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine presents, its time for leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country,” they said.