Coronavirus stimulus checks: McConnell rejects $900B bipartisan bill as talks restart  

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A stimulus deal before the year end looks highly unlikely now. Yesterday, we reported about a bipartisan effort to break the stimulus logjam. The bipartisan group revealed their $900 billion stimulus package late Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, was quick to reject the bipartisan coronavirus stimulus package, dimming hopes of a package and checks before the end of the year.

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Talks restart, but McConnell reiterates push for targeted bill

On Tuesday, McConnell reiterated his push for a “targeted relief bill” this year, and rejected the $908 billion bipartisan plan. On several occasions previously, McConnell has talked in favor of a $500 billion bill.

Talking about the bipartisan bill, McConnell said, “We just don’t have time to waste time.”

Stressing the need of another bill, McConnell said the relief package and the spending bill will “all likely come in one package." To avoid the government shutdown, Congress needs to pass the funding legislation by December 11.

Meanwhile, the first negotiations on the stimulus bill since the election kicked off Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked about the relief package and government funding bill.

Speaking to reporters, Mnuchin said that they are primarily focused on the unfinished appropriations bill. “I’d urge Congress to pass something quickly to make sure we get something done,” he said.

Later, talking about the relief discussions, Pelosi said they “acknowledged the recent positive developments on vaccine development and the belief that it is essential to significantly fund distribution efforts to get us from vaccine to vaccination.”

No stimulus checks in bipartisan coronavirus bill

The $908 billion bipartisan bill was introduced by the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House. It includes $288 billion in aid to small businesses, such as PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), $300 per week unemployment benefit through March, and $160 billion in aid to state and local governments.

Further, it also allots $16 billion for vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing, $45 billion into transportation and $82 billion for education. Also, the bill allots funding for rental assistance, child care and broadband.

Unlike expectations, the bill doesn’t include stimulus checks. However, it does include federal protection from coronavirus-related lawsuits, but states are free to determine their own laws.

Sen. Mark Warner, one of the members of the bipartisan group that introduced the package, called the bill an “interim package” to support the economy until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.

“If there’s one thing I’m hearing uniformly it’s: ‘Congress, do not leave town for the holidays leaving the country and the economy adrift with all these initial CARES [Act] programs running out,’” Warner told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), also a member of the bipartisan group, said they haven’t received any assurances from McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they would vote on their relief bill.

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