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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks alongside a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators has released the full legislative text for a two-part stimulus plan: a $748 billion package focusing on areas of agreement and a separate $160 billion bill that includes the most controversial provisions — additional funding for state and local government and liability protections.

Why it matters: While many lawmakers see this bill as the most realistic and concrete compromise on coronavirus relief that we've seen in months, House and Senate leadership currently view it as a marker for broader negotiations — not the final vehicle for aid.

The bottom line: Congress has until the end of the week to strike a deal on a stimulus bill that can be tied to longer-term spending legislation, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) need to get moving.

Details: The $748 billion version billion bill includes all of the major priorities that both parties want to see in a relief package — enhanced unemployment benefits, an extension of the small business Paycheck Protection Program, more money for education and increased funding for vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing.

  • But — similar to McConnell's proposal — the bill on its own does not include the areas where the parties are farthest apart in an effort to ensure that at least some of the package can pass.
  • Instead, Congress has the option to vote for those issues — Democrats' demand for additional aid for state and local government and Republicans' push for (temporary) liability protections — in the separate, $160 billion bill.
  • Critics of this approach say the slimmed down version defeats the purpose of negotiations, given it's much harder to pass contested legislation when it's not tied to the un-controversial provisions.

What neither proposal includes: Stimulus checks — something Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are demanding be included in a final package.

What they're saying: "There's been a lot of gangs who didn't get to the final product, but we did. Let's get it across the finish line," Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), a leading figure in the group said Monday.

  • "It would be Scrooge-like to leave folks to lose their unemployment or their apartment."
  • "We're the only game in town," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said. "This is about need and not greed."

Read the $748 billion bill

Read the $160 billion bill

Go deeper

Senate Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a closely divided Congress, the Senate’s Mischief Makers could thwart their leaders' best-laid plans with their own agendas.

Why it matters: On Wednesday night, we shared a list of House members who our leadership sources on the Hill consider some of the top troublemakers. But their Senate counterparts may be even more impactful in a 50-50 chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote.

Jan 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.