WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin told reporters in a Tuesday’s call progress continues to be made on a bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 emergency relief framework.
Manchin said additional Democrats and Republicans are coming to an agreement on what should be included in the $908 billion framework.
“We’re now putting text and language to it so we’ll have a section by section summary and you should have it by (Wednesday). That will give an idea on where we’re going with that,” Manchin said.
Manchin said the “basic necessities of life” are at stake because of the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
“Food, nutrition, a roof over your head, health care and unemployment benefits run out a the end of the month,” Manchin said. “This all has to be addressed we can’t let it go.”
Congress has been at a standstill on the next COVID-19 relief package since last summer. Manchin was once again critical Tuesday of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“He started out with $1.1 trillion in July and came back after the August recess, which we should have never taken, and dropped it down to $500 million. I don’t think you deal in good faith that way,” Manchin said.
Manchin said one of the big issues up for discussion is protection for some businesses in connection with COVID-19 lawsuits.
“The (protection) should be directed to (business owners) who have done everything, followed the CDC guidelines but then be subjected to a lawsuit that could put them out of business. We understand that and we’re trying to protect but just to give them blanket amnesty I think would put workers in a bad situation,” Manchin said.
Manchin said the federal funding available to state and local governments in the new package will also be more fact-based than the money that flowed out in the CARES Act.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure you have to show a need for it before you receive it. Their just not going to send you blanket money like they did the first time,” Manchin said. “The money that goes out is going to have to be justified by revenue losses, by the amount of expenses you’ve had for COVID-related expenses.”
The framework includes $300 billion to protect small businesses through a PPP program.
Manchin said the group has been working with supporters in the U.S. House.
“They have accepted the $908 billion and so what we’re going is writing the language for it,” Manchin said.
The Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans. Manchin said Tuesday the numbers are growing.