Canada

U.S. bipartisan lawmakers propose $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill that would fund measures through March 31, including $228 billion in additional paycheck protection program funds for hotels, restaurants and other small businesses.

State and local governments would receive direct aid under the bipartisan bill, the lawmakers said. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican, said the plan contains $560 billion in “repurposed” funding from the CARES Act enacted in March.

The lawmakers, speaking to reporters, said they have not yet secured backing for their plan from the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Their support would be essential for a compromise bill to advance in the House and Senate.

But it does contain provisions that Republicans have been pressing for: new liability protections for businesses and schools grappling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Pelosi and her Democrats would win a central demand: aid to state and local governments.

A compromise $300 per week in additional unemployment benefits would also be in the package, according to the lawmakers.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were expected to discuss coronavirus aid and a must-pass government funding bill later on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Franklin Paul and Chris Reese)

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