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December 7, 2020 12:30 PM, EST

Pelosi, McConnell Negotiate COVID-19 Relief with Transportation Aid

Nancy Pelosi House Speaker Pelosi recently suggested her team is negotiating with Senate counterparts on potentially advancing a near-trillion-dollar pandemic measure as early as this month. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

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A new round of COVID-19 relief that includes transportation aid is on the congressional radar as the U.S. House and Senate prepare to adjourn for the year.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently suggested her team is negotiating with Senate counterparts on potentially advancing a near-trillion-dollar pandemic measure as early as this month. The emergency aid likely would be attached to a fiscal 2021 funding measure meant to avert a federal government shutdown.

Funding authority expires Dec. 11, and a bipartisan COVID-19 aid framework unveiled last week is proposing $45 billion for transportation systems.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

“When I spoke to [Senate] Leader [Mitch] McConnell yesterday, we talked about the possibility of putting a COVID package on the [fiscal 2021 funding] omnibus bill,” Pelosi said Dec. 4. “But he and I, being appropriators, know that if you are going to do that, you have to have an omnibus bill. And so, we have to work through all of the provisions that are still unresolved there. We’re making progress.”

The bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), plan to reveal the legislative text for their $908 billion relief framework this week. Of that proposal, $45 billion would be directed for airlines, airports, the bus and transit systems, and Amtrak’s operations; $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution; $10 billion for the postal system; and $10 billion for child care assistance.

As Manchin explained Dec. 1, “The bipartisan, bicameral framework announced today proves that we can reach across the aisle and create meaningful compromise that will help those who need it most for the next few months.”

COVID Emergency Relief Framework by Transport Topics on Scribd

McConnell (R-Ky.), who champions aid and liability protection for small businesses, in addition to aid for health care and school systems during the pandemic, called on colleagues to focus on the possible.

“Let’s do what Congress does when we want an outcome. Let’s make law on all the subjects where we agree, on all the areas where President [Donald] Trump is ready to sign bipartisan relief into law,” McConnell said Dec. 3.

The adjournment for the post-election lame-duck session is expected to occur prior to the Christmas holiday. Any additional relief from Congress ideally would appear as the federal apparatus and state agencies announce the logistics associated with distributing the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Week Ahead (Eastern time)

Dec. 10, 9:30 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee meets for a hearing about the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. Witnesses include Rachel Levine, secretary of Health for Pennsylvania and president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers; Richard Smith, regional president of the Americas and executive vice president, FedEx Express; and Wesley Wheeler, president of global health care, UPS Inc.

Freight Corridor

When it comes to planning for the vaccine delivery, it’s all about logistics.

Buzz

The transportation community remembered Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, who died last month. He was 53. Per the Association of American Railroads: “Larry’s passing is a tremendous loss for all who knew this thoughtful, tireless advocate for the transportation and labor communities.”

Favorite Video

During the post-election lame-duck session, POTUS offered a very “this town” moment from the White House.

Favorite Tweet

Amid a pandemic, Tiger King and weed enter the political arena.

The Last Word

We want to help people at this particular time, and we have come together, and we have been very careful.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Dec. 1.

Mitt Romney

We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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