WASHINGTON – Today at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and a group of Democratic and Republican colleagues announced a bipartisan framework to provide emergency COVID-19 relief to American students, families, businesses, workers and health care providers during this crisis. The plan provides a path forward for bipartisan COVID-19 relief, which has been stalled since March over disputes between Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate and White House, and is the result of weeks of negotiations spearheaded by Sen. Warner along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).
“The framework we’re presenting today is the product of many hours of difficult discussions and bipartisan negotiations. As with any compromise, neither side got everything they wanted, but after months of stalled negotiations in Congress and hardship endured by the American people, this deal is nothing short of an achievement and a step in the right direction towards providing much-needed relief for families who are still struggling nearly nine months into this pandemic,” said U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today. “While not a full solution to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, the bipartisan agreement we’ve reached today will help Americans weather this winter and get through the holiday season, while providing urgent relief for small businesses, local governments, health care providers, and low-income and minority communities, among others. Frankly, it would be cruel for Congress to adjourn until the New Year while families across the nation spend the holiday unable to put food on the table. That’s why today, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the right thing and support this bipartisan effort.”
The framework provides $908 billion in funding intended to provide immediate relief for the next four months. The deal includes:
- $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments drowning in red ink;
- $180 billion for unemployment insurance programs, including those set to expire at the end of the month;
- $288 billion for another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, including restaurants and performing arts venues
- $12 billion in support for community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to help low-income and minority communities especially hard-hit by COVID-19, based on Sen. Warner’s Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act
- $45 billion for transportation, including mass transit, airlines, airports, buses and Amtrak
- $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution & COVID-19 testing and tracing
- $35 billion in relief for healthcare providers
- $82 billion for K-12 schools and colleges/universities
- $4 billion in emergency student loan relief
- $25 billion in emergency rental assistance
- $26 billion for supplemental nutrition assistance and relief for farmers and agricultural producers
- $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service
- $10 billion for child care
- $10 billion for broadband
- $5 billion for opioid treatment
At today’s press conference, Sen. Warner noted that the package sets aside $15 billion for mass transit, including Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), which announced yesterday it is projecting a $494.5 million funding gap, and without further aid from Congress will be forced to make drastic service and staffing cuts.
“For all of us who live in the DC-Metro Area, we saw in the Washington Post today, that short of some relief Metro will have to lay off close to 4,000 workers over the next coming months. In addition, Metro will also end service after 9:00 pm and end service on the weekends. That will have a dramatic effect on the functions of the federal government as well as for constituents across the tristate area. So we made, I think, the right kind of investment in public transit,” Warner said in his remarks on the framework at today’s press conference, which are available for download at the links above.