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Virginia senators hopeful new COVID-19 relief package will soon pass

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Posted at 3:05 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 16:59:27-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Congress hasn't passed a COVID-19 relief package since March, but now after nearly nine months, a deal appears to be on the horizon.

"If Congress doesn't act, Congress would become the ultimate Grinch of the holiday," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) on Thursday.

Warner has been part of a group of senators working out a COVID-19 relief bill. The bill includes an extension of unemployment benefit, more relief for small businesses, help for people facing eviction and assistance for the transit industry like airlines.

Issues like aid for state and local governments, as well as protections for business from liability during the pandemic, have been pushed into the new year as congressional leadership couldn't reach agreement.

State and local governments have been hit hard with some, including Norfolk, laying off employees.

Instead, the current deal includes stimulus checks of around $600. Final details are still being worked out, but both chambers are expected to vote over the next few days.

A pair of senators on the opposite sides of the ideological spectrum have been pushing for $1,200 checks, but it doesn't appear this deal will include checks that big, against the hopes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri).

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said he would support $1,200 checks with stipulations to make sure wealthier people don't receive them, but he said the $600 figure is the result of compromise. "The good news is this is a time where I think folks who have suffered can really use that, and we're committed to delivering that," said Kaine.

Both Virginia senators are just glad something concrete is finally on the table. "We're probably going to go right up to the edge, but I think we will end up getting a deal," said Warner.

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