Sen. Manchin: ‘We Don’t Have A Choice’ But To Pass $908 Billion Coronavirus Stimulus

Topline

Amid surging coronavirus cases and looming economic disaster for families and businesses this winter, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers that last week introduced a $908 billion stimulus framework, said in a Sunday interview with NBC’s Meet The Press that “a deal must come together” and that lawmakers “don’t have a choice” but to pass the new legislation quickly. 

Key Facts

The new framework includes $288 billion in aid for businesses, $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits for three months and another $160 billion for state and local governments, among a host of smaller provisions. 

President-elect Biden last week signaled his support for the plan, but added that the $908 billion should be considered “at best …a down payment” before additional relief measures that will come after he takes office next year. 

Top Democrats have endorsed the package even though it is more than $1 trillion smaller than what they’ve pushed for until now, as have a number of Senate Republicans even though the GOP until now hasn’t been willing to support any plan larger than about $500 billion. 

The framework does not include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks and has been criticized by progressives including Sen. Bernie Sanders as a result.  

Like Biden, Manchin emphasized that the plan is only a starting point to tide the economy over through the first three months of 2021: “every indication says more money is needed,” he said, “we see that.” 

Top Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a Sunday interview on ABC’s This Week that another round of stimulus checks (expected to cost about $300 billion) had been excluded from the package to make the price tag more palatable to Senate Republicans, and added that he would want to see additional aid measures like stimulus checks “if there was more money available.”

Crucial Quote

“The $908 billion investment we make into the citizens of this country, trying to keep this economy from collapsing, could be more important than $2 trillion would be in February [or] March if we do nothing,” Sen. Manchin said.

Key Background

Despite gaining significant momentum last week, the bipartisan plan won’t make it through Congress unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has refused to support it and is pushing his own smaller plan instead, is willing to bring it to the floor for a vote. “I just hope Sen. McConnell will let us bring this matter to the floor as quickly as possible,” Sen. Durbin said Sunday. “We have a lot of work to do and just a few days to do it.” Durbin also added that lawmakers are still finalizing “a few remaining issues” in the framework. 

What To Watch For

Congress will return to work on Monday with just five days to prevent a government shutdown on Dec. 11. Lawmakers can pass an omnibus spending bill with an entirely new budget for the 2021 fiscal year, or they can pass a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government at existing levels until the spring. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has indicated that a continuing resolution is more likely. 

Further Reading

Biden: $1,200 Checks ‘May Still Be In Play’ In Stimulus Deal (Forbes)

Senate Republicans Appear Open To $908 Billion Stimulus Plan Despite McConnell Opposition (Forbes)

McConnell Says Stimulus Compromise Is ‘Within Reach’ As Schumer Criticizes Partisan Posturing (Forbes)

In Big Concession, Democratic Leaders Support $908 Billion Bipartisan Stimulus Plan (Forbes)

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