Portman, Manchin: Relief Bill a Short-Term Emergency Package (CNBC/"Squawk Box")
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 17 December 2020 12:47 PM
The Senate will likely finish up with its next coronavirus relief legislation on Saturday, after passing a short-term spending bill Friday night to avoid a government shutdown, and it's time that happened, Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday.
"It's been nine months since we passed the CARES package," said the Ohio Republican on CNBC's "Squawk Box," where he appeared with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. "People are hurting. Unfortunately, the coronavirus health care crisis has gotten worse, not better, recently and the economy is not as strong as it should be."
The relief bill will be an emergency package, he added, to get the nation through the next few months and into spring, when vaccines will be getting more widely available and the nation can "begin to turn the corner on this crisis."
Manchin, who has been working with Portman and 10 other senators, split between Democrats and Republicans, said they produced the template being used on the bipartisan $908 billion bill to be considered.
"This is not a do-all, end-all (bill), said Manchin. "Joe Biden, our president-elect coming in as president in January, will evaluate the situation and offer another package if needed, and we will consider it, and work towards making sure our economy continues to come back and come back strong."
Manchin added that the bill "is not enough in so many areas, and it's too much in other areas, where both sides are taking their respective positions. We've got a good, balanced package in a bipartisan way."
Portman added that he and Manchin do not have a "lot of daylight between" their stances on unemployment extensions.
"Otherwise, as of the day after Christmas, a bunch of people lose their unemployment," said Portman. "Some states are doing better than others, some sectors of the economy doing better than others. As you shut down the economy, a bunch of people lose their jobs through no fault of their own."
The bill also allows an extra $300 in federal supplements to unemployment checks to allow people to get through a short period of time until vaccines are readily available, said Portman.
Meanwhile, the senators both said they are looking to a point where lawmakers will start to work together again, and Portman said he believes that moderates like themselves will have more sway in the upcoming Congress.
"We have to figure out a way to work together," said Portman."We can't allow the country to screech to a halt. We have to be able to work with Republicans and Democrats focused on what's best for the country."