After weeks of negotiating, it became clear that our “908 coalition” was really two groups. Everyone agreed on $748 billion to extend emergency assistance for the unemployed, pass another round of PPP, and provide rental assistance and funding for vaccines. A second, smaller group supported taking the additional step of compromising on $160 billion in aid for state, local and tribal governments in exchange for liability protections for employers, small businesses, nonprofits, schools and churches. With bipartisan agreement solidifying on the $748 billion portion, the smaller group was determined to find an acceptable solution as well.
In the end, we reached a bipartisan compromise. The outcome of our discussions is a two-part emergency relief package: a $748 billion bill that meets the emergency needs of the nation. It funds a second round of small-business assistance; extends unemployment assistance for 16 weeks with a $300 weekly federal supplement; and includes necessary funding for testing, tracing and vaccine distribution. A separate package includes $160 billion in state, local and tribal funding, and liability protections for businesses, schools, churches and health-care facilities.
We realize that the smaller bill will not be popular in our respective parties. Each of us agreed on including a provision we would not have supported on its own. We believe that the only way to get one is to allow both — or we’re left with nothing. It’s not perfect, but no compromise is.