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Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveil $908 billion coronavirus relief package framework

"We have to do something in the next two weeks," Sen. Manchin says in regards to coronavirus stimulus funding

Updated: December 1, 2020 - 12:51pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday laid out a framework for emergency COVID-19 relief funding heading into the winter months.

"We have to do something in the next two weeks. We have to," West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said during a news conference.

Manchin was asked whether the group has received any assurances from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the proposal would be put on the floor for a vote.

"We have not had assurances from them on that for a vote but I think the American people will put the pressure showing that there is a group of us coming together saying this needs to get done," Manchin said. "This is the only group that's come together in such a large gathering."

The coalition includes New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed and New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chairs of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, GOP Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, GOP Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and GOP Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy.

"We're determined not to go home until we do something," said Manchin, a moderate Democrat in the GOP-controlled Senate. "Right now we think we've covered a lot of the areas of concern."

Manchin called Romney to the podium to speak about the White House's reaction to the framework.

"I wish I was there," quipped Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. 

Romney said Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is aware of the bipartisan group's negotiations but hasn't "weighed in as to whether he agrees or disagrees."

The framework for the $908 billion rescue package consists of $288 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program to assist small businesses during the pandemic, $180 billion for unemployment insurance, $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service and $160 billion for state and local governments.

"That's all this is about, emergency relief going through the first quarter, which ends on April 1," Manchin said. "President-elect Biden will be coming in, he'll be able to determine if there's more that needs to be done. This is an emergency that gets us through from this holiday season."

Manchin's office has yet to respond to a question from Just the News about why $10 billion for USPS is included in the proposal, given that mail-in voting for the presidential election has ended.