Barrasso: 'The Delay' for a COVID Relief Bill 'Has Been Too Long.' Here's Who He's Blaming.

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Posted: Dec 20, 2020 11:00 AM
Barrasso: 'The Delay' for a COVID Relief Bill 'Has Been Too Long.' Here's Who He's Blaming.

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file

Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-WY) on Sunday told Fox News' Chris Wallace that the second Wuhan coronavirus relief package needs to get done by the end of the day.

"What are the chances that all sides will sign on to an agreement today?" Wallace asked.

"This gets done today. No more delays. We're not leaving until we have relief for the American people. People are hurting. People need help," he explained. "And there are two things we need to do to write this final chapter on coronavirus and the one is to get people vaccinated. We're doing that now."

According to the senator, 20 million Americans will be vaccinated by the end of the month. 

"But we need to provide help for the American public, people who have been struggling, until we get enough people vaccinated that we can get the economy fully on track and that means people back to work and kids back to school," Barrasso explained. 

The Senate Republican Conference Chair said that under this new Wuhan coronavirus relief package, Americans who received the first stimulus check will receive $600 per person, including children, meaning a family of four would receive $2,400. 

"For people who are out of work, out of no fault of their own, $300 a week for enhanced unemployment going into next year and for the small businesses and the working families all across America, we were going to do more Paycheck Protection loans so those small businesses can stay open, so people can get paychecks," he said.

Barrasso cited the Paycheck Protection Program's success. In his home state of Wyoming alone, 13,000 small businesses qualified and received the loans. 

"It's a little more specific this time in that the business has to be fewer than 300 employees and they actually have to show a loss," the senator explained. "That's the way we get this disease behind us."

Although President Donald Trump has called on Congress to up the direct cash payments from the agreed upon $600, it is unlikely to happen. According to Barrasso, the deal needs to be finalized by the end of the day. 

"We need to get this done today. The president is right in that this is no fault of the American people. Of course, we should have done this months ago had Nancy Pelosi not played politics through the fall because of the presidential election. She's admitted as much," he explained. "We've had a bill pretty comparable to what we're going to pass today and we've offered it – by Republicans – time and time again. The Democrats beat it down 40 different times. This has been wrong. The delay has been too long. We need to get it done now for Christmas."

Late Saturday night Senate Democrats and Republicans tentatively agreed on another Wuhan coronavirus relief package, which is tied to a spending bill that is needed to avoid a partial government shutdown. Congress previously passed a two-day stop gap bill to prevent the shutdown. That bill expires at 12:01 a.m. EST on Monday.

The Senate was deadlocked on Sen. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) demand to eliminate three loan programs the Federal Reserve launched in March to keep the economy afloat during the initial lockdown.

Democrats ended up agreeing to Toomey's demands. 

"This tentative agreement is an unqualified victory for taxpayers. Senate Republicans achieved all four of our objectives regarding the CARES Act 13(3) Federal Reserve lending programs," Toomey spokesman Steve Kelley said in a statement provided to Fox News. "This agreement rescinds more than $429 billion in unused CARES Act funds; definitively ends the CARES Act lending facilities by December 31, 2020; stops these facilities from being restarted; and forbids them from being duplicated without congressional approval."

"This agreement will preserve Fed independence and prevent Democrats from hijacking these programs for political and social policy purposes," Kelly concluded.

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