Renewed Hopes for a COVID-19 Stimulus Package

The $908 billion compromise plan includes temporary liability protections.

December 03, 2020

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D.-N.Y.) yesterday signaled willingness to consider a $908 billion stimulus plan unveiled Tuesday by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators that’s aimed at breaking the deadlocked negotiations around COVID-19 relief, the Washington Post reports.

Congress faces mounting pressure to act before Dec. 31 on a new stimulus measure. Provisions in the newly proposed plan include:

  • $180 billion in aid for jobless Americans, including $300 federal weekly unemployment benefits
  • $240 billion in new Paycheck Protection Program assistance for small businesses
  • $160 billion in funding for state and local governments
  • $51 billion in new health-care and vaccine-related funds
  • Short term federal protection from COVID-19 related lawsuits with the purpose of giving states time to develop their own responses.

The plan does not include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for taxpayers, which observers say is an attempt to keep the plan's price tag under $1 trillion.

It includes short-term legal protections for businesses and other entities from liability lawsuits related to COVID-19 at the state or federal level as states craft their own protections, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NACS has been advocating for federal liability protections from COVID-19 lawsuits since the convenience retailing industry was designated part of the nation’s critical infrastructure workforce this spring, as NACS Daily has reported. On Tuesday, NACS led a letter signed by 36 essential industry associations requesting that Congress include liability in their next COVID-19 stimulus package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released his own framework for a $500 billion relief plan on Tuesday to help fund schools, public-health systems and small businesses, but Democrats have argued that it's not enough to address the current economic and health crises. They have sought at least $2.2 trillion in further spending.

The McConnell plan includes the SAFE TO WORK Act, which was introduced in July and provides liability protections to businesses, healthcare providers, schools, universities, and nonprofits provided they took responsible measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. NACS supports the SAFE TO WORK Act.

Lawmakers have not passed a coronavirus relief bill since the spring when Congress approved over $3 trillion as the economy collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats ultimately went nowhere in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election.

Many economic experts say the economy needs additional government support as coronavirus cases surge nationwide, prompting states to reinstate restrictions aimed at limiting the public’s exposure to the virus.

With just a few weeks left on the legislative calendar, it remains unclear whether Congress will pass another stimulus package

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.