- Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the upper chamber, said a smaller aid package to support the economy through the winter months may be needed.
- “And it’s less about the overall number because even if there is a short-term package for the next few months, until we get into the new Biden administration, we have to act now,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow told CNBC.
- Congress has been deadlocked on coronavirus relief for months.
- But some Democrats say a compromise may be needed to get federal aid out the door quickly, even if a potential relief package carries a smaller price tag than they have long sought.
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Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the upper chamber, urged immediate action on an economic aid package in the lame-duck session of Congress, even if it was a smaller measure to support people and businesses through the winter.
The Michigan Democrat said there were discussions going on in a “bipartisan basis” and expressed alarm over millions of Americans at risk of losing their unemployment benefits next month.
“To me, this is about making sure there are no winners and losers — that whatever we do is comprehensive,” Stabenow said on Tuesday in a CNBC interview. “And it’s less about the overall number because even if there is a short-term package for the next few months, until we get into the new Biden administration, we have to act now.”
Stabenow’s comments reflect the heightening calls among some Democrats to compromise on a coronavirus relief package before Congress adjourns next month. Lawmakers are currently negotiating on a dozen must-pass spending bills to fund most government agencies and avert a shutdown. They must be approved by December 11.
But an aid plan to prop up the economy has proved elusive, and it threatens to derail the shaky recovery, experts say. A rapid rise in virus cases has prompted more restrictions and business closures in many parts of the country. Jobless claims spiked last week for the first time since October, and new hiring has slowed.
“I just hope that we can get agreement. It may not be everything that everybody wants but at least if we can get some significant relief to people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CQ-Roll Call last week.
Congress has only eight days left on their legislative calendar to strike a deal and pass it.
Since the election, President-elect Joe Biden has jumped into the discussions on a fifth stimulus package. He’s urged lawmakers to approve a multi-trillion dollar plan that Democrats have pressed for. It includes $600 federal unemployment benefits, $1,200 direct payments, and aid for strapped states among other measures.
But Republicans strongly oppose its price tag and many of its provisions. Instead, they’re seeking a skinnier plan that prioritizes small business aid, along with education and public health funding.
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Biden reiterated their calls for Congress to pass another relief plan before the end of the lame-duck session.