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Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least nine Republican and Democratic senators have formed an informal working group aimed at securing new coronavirus spending during the lame-duck session, a move favored by President-elect Biden, two sources familiar with the group tell Axios.

Why it matters: It may be the most significant bipartisan step toward COVID relief in months.

But, but, but: Most lawmakers still see only a small chance for passage of a comprehensive stimulus package before the end of the year, given how far apart Republicans and Democrats remain on key priorities.

  • These negotiations are taking place against the backdrop of stalled talks between House and Senate leadership and the outgoing Trump administration.

What we're hearing: The group includes GOP Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Pat Toomey (Pa.), and Democrats Mark Warner (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), sources said.

  • Their talks center on tying aid to the FY 2021 government spending bill that must pass by Dec. 11.
  • They would renew some modest provisions — like giving states another year to spend the money allocated to them in the CARES Act passed in March and reauthorizing the small-business Paycheck Protection Program and Small Business Administration loan forgiveness program for another year.
  • Politico first reported on the group aiming to revive stimulus talks.

Go deeper

Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.