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With lawmakers facing a mounting year-end to-do list, a deal on a new coronavirus relief package continues to be elusive for Congress.
But a key House Democrat on Sunday seemed to indicate some flexibility on one of his party's priorities.
"[Democrats] are not going to get everything we want," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on CNN's Inside Politics. "We think state and local [aid] is important. And if we can get that, we want to get it. But we want to get aid out to the people who are really, really struggling and are at grave risk."
Several existing federal programs, including some unemployment benefits, are set to expire at the end of the month.
Hoyer, who said he's spent the weekend negotiating with congressional leaders on the relief package, emphasized that legislators have to compromise in order to get a deal, saying, "life is a series of tradeoffs and give and takes."
Hoyer added: "We need to get the essential done and we'll have time to get stuff done that we didn't include because we couldn't get political agreement."
A bipartisan group of lawmakers will unveil a $908 billion coronavirus relief bill on Monday, according to Sen. Joe Manchin.
The West Virginia Democrat teased the 12-figure package during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” as several previous plans to help struggling Americans had stalled in Beltway gridlock.
“We’ve been meeting day and night for the last month. We were on the call all day yesterday, we’ll get on the call again this afternoon to finish things up,” said Manchin. “We’ll have a bill produced for the American people tomorrow [of] $908 billion.”
Manchin acknowledged that some Americans will be skeptical that this bill will have a better fate than previous iterations that died in Congress due to widespread refusal among both parties to give an inch in their demands.
“There’s a lot of parts to this bill, and in the spirit of compromise, you have to work through all that,” he said. “But at the end, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce a $908 billion coronavirus relief bill as soon as Monday, with a twist: The deal is expected to be split into two pieces, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
One would be a $748 billion piece of coronavirus relief with less controversial items like schools and health care; the other would marry $160 billion in money for local governments with a temporary liability shield.
Those two components have been the toughest part of the negotiation so far, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested dropping them and concentrating on the less divisive areas. McConnell had long called a liability shield from coronavirus legislation his “red line” while congressional Democrats say the money for states and cities is their top priority. Some Republicans from states with hard-hit budgets like Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) also are pushing for local aid, but many conservatives don’t want to send money to states.
Splitting the bill could make it more likely that a relief package can be finalized before Congress leaves for the holidays — something deemed essential with 12 million Americans set to lose unemployment benefits in coming weeks. No coronavirus relief legislation has been enacted since the spring even though the pandemic continues to exact a staggering toll in terms of lives, hospitalizations and economic distress.
Sen. Joe Manchin said the $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package will be revealed by the end of the day Monday.
Mr. Manchin, one of the leading senators in the bipartisan “908 coalition,” said negotiators worked throughout the weekend to finalize their proposal.
“There’s no way — no way that we’re going to leave Washington without taking care of the emergency needs of our people,” the West Virginia Democrat said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve been meeting day and night for the last month … we’ll have a bill produced for the American people tomorrow.”