The Trump administration is offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans but eliminate a $300-per-week unemployment benefit.
The offer is endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Democrats immediately blasted the plan over the administration's refusal to back the partial restoration, of bonus pandemic jobless benefits that lapsed in August.
The House will pass a one-week government funding bill to give lawmakers more time to sort through the mess they have created, as without the measure, the government would shut down this weekend.
President-elect Joe Biden is pressing for as much pandemic relief as possible, and McConnell says Congress will not adjourn without providing the long-overdue relief.
The top Democrats are invested in the work of a bipartisan group in crafting a solution.
That group — led by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is seeking to rally behind a $908 billion framework that includes a $300-per-week pandemic jobless benefit and $160 billion for states and local governments.
Republican members won't budge above the agreed-upon $908 billion price tag, which leaves no room for even the reduced $600 direct government payment that is sought by Trump.
McConnell proposed shelving the Democratic priority of aid to state and local governments, in exchange for dropping his own pet provision, a shield against lawsuits for COVID-related negligence.
“We're still looking for a way forward," McConnell said.
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