Sen. Kaine: COVID Relief Bill ‘Good Deal for a Short Period of Time’

Sen. Kaine: COVID Relief Bill 'Good Deal for a Short Period of Time' (MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 17 December 2020 09:39 AM

An agreement for a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill has "basically been reached" and at this point, the legislative text is being pulled together on the bill and it will be a "good deal for a short period of time," Sen. Tim Kaine, who has worked on the measure, said Thursday.

"I was involved with the Gang of Eight that negotiated the deal," the Virginia Democrat said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," adding that he and Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Chris Coons, D-Dela., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., all worked on the parts of the legislation dealing with aid for cities and states, and on liability for businesses.

"We narrowed our gaps, but we couldn't get there," said Kaine. "We went back to the Gang of Eight, said you shouldn't let this block everything else."

Even without those being in the current bill, the measure will still be good until further relief can be negotiated after the first of the year, said Kaine.

"The president-elect has said that COVID economic recovery package is his first legislative priority so we'll be working on this after this emergency relief package. I feel good about where we're going."

Meanwhile, the CARES Act passed earlier this year contained $1,200 direct payments to Americans, while the current package reportedly has about $600, but there are several other benefits in the bill to help, including unemployment and eviction assistance, aid for schools, food assistance, and money for public transportation, vaccinations, and health care assistance, said Kaine.

Meanwhile, Democrats wanted $160 billion for aid to states, but because the gap couldn't be closed on liability protection, that money was reprogrammed to use for stimulus checks.

The state and local aid, however, will be revisited in early 2021, said Kaine.

"I was a mayor and governor so state and local aid really matters to me," said Kaine. "If you talk to Republicans, you hear some different things. Some don't like — they're not wild about their own governors, maybe Democratic governors and they worry about dollars being given to states with the governors having discretion on how to spend it."

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