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Bipartisan lawmakers introduce $908 billion coronavirus relief compromise

The bill would revive the special jobless benefits set to run out for 750,000 Californians the day after Christmas but at a reduced level of $300 per week.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — New hope for pandemic relief comes in a $908 billion stimulus package unveiled by lawmakers on Tuesday, with less than two weeks left in session.

In the package, nearly $230 billion would go to extend "paycheck protection" subsidies for businesses.

It would also revive the special jobless benefits set to run out for 750,000 Californians the day after Christmas, but it will do so at a reduced level of $300 per week instead of $600.

State and local governments would get $160 billion.

The new plan would not include a $1,200 stimulus check for every American.

"We've been working on this for months, frankly this is a bill that should have happened in the summer," said Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock).

Rep. Harder was on the team of 25 democrats and 25 republicans called the House Problem Solvers Caucus that worked on this compromise.

"This effort is not perfect. I'll be the first to admit that, but what would be the biggest disaster, the biggest risk is that we continue to be more interested in pointing blame than actually working together," he said.

But this is a bittersweet compromise for a grassroots advocacy group called ExtendPUA.org.

"We're obviously disappointed to see that FPUC (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) cut in half. We think that the $600 was important but we understand that that might not have bipartisan support," said Stephanie Freed, co-director of ExtendPUA.org.

ABC10 took those concerns to Rep. Harder.

"I understand folks that say 'Well, $300 extra isn't enough.' I hear you. We need to make sure that we're helping people pay rent, put groceries on the table, especially as the holiday season approaches, but what we can't have happen is nothing," he said.

Freed is one of millions around the country surviving on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, one of two unemployment programs set to run out the day after Christmas in California. 

"Another big thing we're disappointed about is that the FPUC, even being $300, isn't retroactive," she said. "And people are behind, like we need those. We're in a debt, we haven't paid rent, 10 million people haven't paid rent, and so retroactive payments is completely necessary, especially if we're not passing any stimulus checks."


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