SALT LAKE CITY — A bipartisan group of senators, including Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, unveiled a $908 billion emergency coronavirus relief plan Tuesday that would extend unemployment insurance, restart Paycheck Protection Program and fund vaccine distribution.
The package, which also has support from 50 Democratic and Republican House members, who make up the Problem Solvers Caucus, offers a COVID-19 emergency relief framework to help students, families, businesses, workers and health care providers during the health crisis.
The informal group has talked almost daily the past two weeks, including over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
“COVID has created a crisis, and in a crisis people expect Congress to act,” Romney said at news conference in Washington, D.C. “It’s simply unacceptable for us not to help in this circumstance.”
Senators described the package as a bridge to help struggling businesses, unemployed Americans and front-line health care workers through March 31.
The proposal includes $228 billion for a second round of PPP loans and $11 billion for loans to underserved communities. It also provides temporary liability protections for businesses, doctors and governments from any coronavirus related lawsuits.
The relief plan comes as states across the country are shuttering restaurants and other businesses to fend off another wave of the virus that is causing illness and death at unprecedented levels.
“It’s inexcusable for us to leave town without an agreement,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. He said a bill could be ready in the next two weeks.
Americans are in urgent need of #COVID19 relief. I’m teaming up with a bipartisan group of colleagues to announce a COVID-19 emergency relief framework that will help American families, businesses, workers, and health care providers during this crisis. https://t.co/xAaKWl4iX6
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) December 1, 2020
Manchin said the group does not have assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that they would bring any legislation up for a vote.
Romney said he has have talked to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin but doesn’t know where the White House stands on the proposal.
COVID has created a crisis, and in a crisis people expect Congress to act.
–Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
The senators who make up the group are Susan Collins, R-Maine, Mark Warner, D-Va., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Angus King, I-Maine, and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Manchin and Romney.
This story will be updated.
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Mitt Romney among bipartisan group proposing $908B emergency COVID-19 relief plan /p>