Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined a bipartisan, bicameral group in sharing additional details regarding two COVID-19 emergency relief bills. The group is led by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Collins along with Senators King, Mark Warner (D-VA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representatives Gottheimer (D-NJ-5) and Tom Reed (R-NY-23).
The Bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Act of 2020, shared by Senators Manchin, Collins, Warner, Cassidy, Shaheen, Murkowski, King, Romney, Hassan, Portman and Durbin, would provide as much as $748 billion in relief to American students, families, businesses, workers, and health care providers during this crisis. The Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act of 2020, shared by Senators Manchin, Collins, Cassidy, Murkowski, Romney and Portman, would provide $160 billion in funding for state and local governments and liability protections. The Problem Solvers Caucus is working on a version in the House.
“We have had a Christmas miracle occur in Washington. We worked night and day for over a month to put together an emergency COVID relief package. My hope is that our hard work will spur our leadership on both sides of the aisle to take our products and use them as the basis for a COVID relief package that is urgently needed by our struggling families, hard-hit small businesses, health care providers, Postal Service, schools, and so many others,” said Senator Collins. “I'm particularly proud of the $300 billion small business provision that Senator Jeanne Shaheen and I led. It includes an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which has saved millions of jobs in this country, including 250,000 jobs in Maine alone. Surely we can come together and provide this relief before Christmas. The American people deserve no less.”
“After weeks of negotiations marked by good-faith efforts on both sides of the aisle to strike a compromise, today we have reached an agreement that would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for Americans who are struggling,” said Senator King. “This agreement extends unemployment benefits for workers who’ve lost their jobs due to the pandemic’s economic impact; provides another crucial lifeline for the nation’s small businesses, and strengthens our public health infrastructure as healthcare providers across the country prepare to deliver vaccine doses in the months ahead. Our agreement is far from perfect; I strongly would have preferred additional funding for unemployment, and would rather that the critical funds for state and local infrastructure were included in the overall package rather than broken out. However, we don’t have time to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. When you look at our initial framework, this final agreement isn’t a glass that’s half full -- this glass is eighty percent full. I support this measure because the American people are in desperate need of relief, and they don’t have time for months of Congressional haggling; they need action, now. This legislation should be viewed as a starting point, to get us through the worst of the long winter ahead – and in the next several months, Congress should continue negotiating in an effort to prepare additional relief legislation this coming spring.”
“The American people are hurting in ways we haven’t seen in generations. The next several months are going to the most difficult stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic in this country, and we as Members of Congress have a responsibility to act. Food banks are overwhelmed with requests, small businesses are being forced to shut their doors again, we are on the verge of a devastating housing crisis and millions of Americans still find themselves unemployed. The two bipartisan, bicameral emergency relief bills shared today are a compromise that will carry the American people through April 1st of next year to ensure our healthcare crisis doesn’t become an economic catastrophe. For Congress to do nothing in the face of a national crisis of this magnitude is unacceptable and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support these bipartisan solutions. We’re not going home for Christmas until this gets done,” Senator Manchin said.
“I will be the first to admit that this deal is imperfect. But these challenges are simply too urgent to allow politics to interfere, and an imperfect deal is better than no deal. With unemployment and other benefits scheduled to run out just before Christmas, the American people cannot afford for us to wait. After several weeks of work, I hope that this bipartisan bill moves us closer to providing real relief to the American people without further delay,” said Senator Warner.
“COVID infections are rising. Small businesses owners and their employees are afraid of going bankrupt and losing their jobs. Families are wondering how to afford food and rent. This bill reflects weeks of good-faith negotiations from both Republicans and Democrats to find a solution that delivers relief to struggling Americans. This is Congress’ last chance to pass a relief bill before Christmas. We must deliver for the good of our country,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“300,000 Americans have been taken by COVID-19. As hospital beds fill up, small businesses close their doors and Americans struggle to put food on the table, the urgency to get financial relief to our communities cannot be overstated. The bipartisan legislation we’ve announced today – written in good-faith and across party lines – are the only relief bills that can clear Congress. Senate and House leaders must act swiftly,” said Senator Shaheen. “The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been overwhelming and no person or industry has been spared. This legislation responds to those who have been hardest-hit, including our small businesses and child care providers, and it addresses pre-existing problems in our society that have been worsened by the pandemic, such as food insecurity and the substance use disorder epidemic. This legislation will help Americans get through the darkest months of this crisis, but our work is not over. We will need to build on this bipartisan effort in the weeks and months ahead to ensure New Hampshire families and all Americans have the assistance they need to recover.”
“Across the nation, Americans continue to struggle with significant health and economic impacts due to COVID-19. In Alaska, I continue to hear from small businesses who are struggling to keep their doors open as well as many who are uncertain they will be able to pay rent or even feed their family. Congress must fulfill our obligation to the American people by providing emergency relief to those who have been hit the hardest by the impacts of this pandemic. People are looking to Congress for leadership in a time of serious need and these targeted measures will make an immediate difference,” said Senator Murkowski. “It is time to put partisan differences aside and provide Americans with the relief they so desperately need. I urge my colleagues to support this much needed legislation for the sake of all those who are struggling.”
“After many weeks of good faith efforts, I’m pleased we were able to reach agreement on a two part relief package that includes emergency relief for small businesses, unemployment insurance, funding for vaccines and health care providers, as well as state and local assistance and a national liability shield for COVID-related lawsuits. This compromise represents the best path forward for Congress and the Administration to provide much-needed relief for the American people before the end of the year,” said Senator Romney.
“People in New Hampshire, and across the country, urgently need additional COVID-19 relief,” said Senator Hassan. “We have come together, compromised, and found bipartisan agreement on a strong emergency relief package that will help protect lives and livelihoods – and there is significant bipartisan, bicameral support for it. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this across the finish line.”
“The Senate should not adjourn until we have passed a new COVID-19 package to provide the relief Americans need, and I’m pleased to announce this bipartisan effort with my colleagues. Together, we have crafted two packages, one that will support our health care response to this pandemic and, just as important, provide a bridge of additional aid to bolster our economy until vaccines are widely available and Americans feel safe returning to normal life. The second package is focused on ensuring that state and local governments have the funding they need to provide essential services while protecting businesses, nonprofits, schools, and faith-based organizations from frivolous lawsuits. I hope all of our colleagues will support these bipartisan products,” said Senator Portman.
“It is clear that we are at a critical moment. I’m hopeful that with the first shipment of a vaccine arriving today at hospitals across the country, we will be able to turn the corner on this pandemic. But we also know that it will take time and resources to vaccinate enough people, and the winter is going to be hard for many families and businesses. With this in mind, this group of Democrats and Republicans came together and worked on compromise, emergency relief legislation in the areas where we could agree totaling $748 billion. This package does not include everything I think we need. However, it is an honest compromise,” Senator Durbin said. “While the fight continues over state and local funding and corporate liability immunity, we must provide some emergency relief for the American people before we go home for the holidays. I support the $748 billion bipartisan package. I urge my colleagues to support this package, and I call on the Senate Majority Leader to bring it to the floor for a vote this week.”
“This team effort is an example of how Congress should, can, and must work together, and a model for governing in a way that the country needs and deserves. This remarkable, bipartisan, bicameral effort from rank and file members has fulfilled our mission to develop an emergency relief down payment that can help our entire nation,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Now, the House and Senate must come together in the spirit of unity, in the spirit of humanity, and in the spirit of America — and pass this emergency relief package before Christmas, so that our country can begin the new year in the spirit of hope and optimism and with much needed relief.”
“By staying in the room and refusing to give up, we’ve crafted a comprehensive proposal that directly addresses the short-term economic needs of the nation and ensures millions of American families will go into the holidays with the federal support they deserve,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). “This effort proves working together is not dead, and it is possible to solve problems if by listening in good faith. Let’s get emergency relief across the finish line and passed into law without delay.”
Background documents for the bills can be found here.