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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

Most Senate Republicans join Rand Paul effort to dismiss Trump's 2nd impeachment trial

Photo: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images

Forty-five Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, supported an effort to dismiss former President Trump's second impeachment trial.

Why it matters: The vote serves as a precursor to how senators will approach next month's impeachment trial, making it highly unlikely the Senate will vote to convict. The House impeached Trump for a second time for "incitement of insurrection" following events from Jan 6. when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.