On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill. Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith breaks down the details.
JULIE HYMAN: Stocks are off their highs of the session right now. They had gotten a boost after reports that there was yet another go being taken at fiscal stimulus on the part of lawmakers, a bipartisan effort. In fact, our Jessica Smith has been following all of these efforts. What does the latest attempt here look like, Jess?
JESSICA SMITH: Well, a group of senators is unveiling this plan right now at a press conference, and this group made up of Republicans and Democrats and Independents says that it's just unacceptable to go home for the holidays and not have some form of coronavirus relief. So what they're proposing is a nearly $1 trillion package. This is a $908 billion plan, and it includes $160 billion for state and local funding. That has been a big priority for Democrats, but Republicans have opposed it.
It also includes short-term liability protections for businesses. That's something Republicans have wanted all along, while Democrats have rejected it. So those are two of the most complicated issues throughout the negotiations that we've seen over the past few months.
They also have an additional $180 billion for unemployment insurance, $288 billion for small businesses, and various programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program, along with money for vaccines, for schools, for testing, and contact tracing and several other measures here, but it's not everything that each side wanted. We know that Republicans originally had wanted just a $500 billion bill. Democrats had proposed a $2.2 trillion. So the senators are saying neither side is 100% happy, but this at least will get some relief to the American people. But now, we have to see if this actually goes forward, if the broader Congress can get onboard.
JULIE HYMAN: Well, that's my question for you, Jess, and that's really the crux. Right? Is that we've seen this movie before. Right? How many proposals have we had at this point, how many versions, and how many negotiations? Does this one have any more chance of passing than the previous did?
JESSICA SMITH: You know, there is growing pressure for lawmakers to get something done here, and I know that's something that I have said for months now, as these negotiations have stalled. But this is something a little different than what we've seen from the past. I think you're seeing rank-and-file lawmakers start to get frustrated that nothing is happening, as leadership negotiates. So now, you're seeing the rank-and-file lawmakers come out here and put together this proposal that they've been working on. Again, $908 billion, I don't think either side is going to be thrilled with that, but we'll see what leadership has to say about this in the coming days.
JULIE HYMAN: Yes. Are we at a better than nothing kind of place here? Thanks so much, Jess, and I just wanted to mention some comments on fiscal support that we were getting from Jay Powell as well. Remember, he's testifying before the Senate Banking Committee. He is getting questions from members of that committee, and he is repeating that the economy might need more fiscal aid. Of course, this is something that he has been pounding the table on for quite some time.
He also said, interestingly, that the CARES Act has done the lion's share of aid for the economy, or had done. He talked about that the Fed is still there in the economy, though still has a long way to go with 10 million people out of work, he says. He reassures the lawmakers that the Fed is going to use its tools, until the danger has passed. We'll keep monitoring those headlines.