Warner is a member of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who on Dec. 1 floated a plan seeking $908 billion in a range of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus relief measures.
“There’s been a group of eight of us—it’s grown to 10—that have worked over the last two weeks every day, except for Thanksgiving. We’re going to have another multi-hour call today,” Warner told CNN.
Their proposal would set new emergency assistance for small businesses, unemployed people, airlines, and other industries during the pandemic. It also would provide emergency aid through March 31, including $228 billion in additional Paycheck Protection Program funds for hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses.
“The clock is ticking,” Warner said. “We have got to make sure we pass legislation to make sure that government continues to be funded, a defense authorization bill, and I think potentially the most critical component, this $908 billion that will give targeted relief for the unemployed, for people in food insecurity, rental assistance, small businesses that have run out of their PPP funds.”
“I think we have got the categories. And I think we have got the top-line numbers done. We are working right now on language, so that we can have as early as tomorrow a piece of legislation,” Warner added.
He said Democrats would have preferred a bigger plan, while Republicans want something in the order of a $500 billion proposal put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“This is a compromise,” Warner said of the $908 billion relief package. “Neither side is going to get the full amount or all the component parts that they wanted,” adding, “I think this is the direction that Congress needs to move in.”
The proposal has faced opposition from some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, however, who want stimulus checks to be part of the bill, which the $908 billion package does not include.
“COVID relief needs to directly help everyday people. People need stimulus checks & UI,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet last Thursday, referring to larger weekly unemployment insurance checks.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) also said he opposes a package that doesn’t include a stimulus check.
“I’d want to see that included,” Hawley told NBC News last week. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t give assistance directly to families and individuals who need it,” he said.
“I’m not sure why it’s controversial,” he added. “I’m a little baffled by it.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), told “Fox News Sunday” that stimulus checks could be part of a subsequent package but that this bill would focus on the most urgent concerns.
“This is not a stimulus bill. It is a relief bill. And it is something for the next three or four months to help those in greatest need,” Cassidy said. “There may be a stimulus check, but that would be part of a different piece of legislation.”
For months, McConnell has pushed a $500 billion approach that Democrats have rejected as inadequate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) previously sought a $2.2 trillion bill that McConnell dismissed. The White House went up to about $1.9 trillion during the height of the negotiation process.