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Rollout Of Republican Coronavirus Aid Bill Pushed To Next Week

Sen. Lamar Alexander, left, speaks with Sen. Roy Blunt  before the start of a Senate Rules Committee hearing Wednesday.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, left, speaks with Sen. Roy Blunt before the start of a Senate Rules Committee hearing Wednesday.

Senators have a partial deal with the White House, including $105 billion for schools and $16 billion for testing. But they are still discussing unemployment aid and need broader talks with Democrats.

Republican Senators and the White House have reached an agreement in principle on a major portion of an upcoming Coronavirus aid bill.

The agreement, which includes $105 billion for schools, is meant to be a starting point for bipartisan talks on a final bill. Other committees are still working on other elements. The full details are expected to be released on Thursday.

Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee announced the agreement on their portion of the legislation Wednesday following a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The senators said the legislation, which will be released in full on Thursday, meets their priorities of getting people "back to school, back to childcare and back to working."

The school funding includes $30 billion for colleges and universities, $70 billion for K-12 education and $5 billion for governors to allocate as needed.

"There will be some money distributed all districts," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. "And other money that will be distributed to districts that get back to school in a more traditional sense."

Half of the money for K-12 schools would go to all schools on a per-capita basis, the other half would be distributed to schools that go back to a traditional school setting, rather than using distance learning.

The senators also described funding for testing for nursing homes, child care facilities and schools, though exact figures were not released.

Blunt described a scenario where the legislation could be broken down until several separate bills rather than one large package as has been the practice for previous relief legislation.

The senators did not provide details of how Republicans plan to handle unemployment insurance or direct payments to individuals, all elements that are being finalized by other committees.

Democrats passed their version of the next round of coronavirus relief more than two months ago. But Republicans have struggled to unite over whether more aid was necessary as well as key benefits like unemployment insurance, direct payments and the total cost.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.
Deirdre Walsh
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.