- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Senate Republicans and the White House agreed Wednesday night on a key part of a coronavirus stimulus proposal that includes $105 billion for schools and billions more for testing.

Lawmakers at the Capitol said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will unveil the plan in pieces on Thursday. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican, announced a “fundamental agreement” on the funding levels.

The money for schools would be divided with $70 billion for K-12, $30 billion for colleges and universities, and $5 billion for governors to spend at their discretion, lawmakers said.

The agreement calls for $16 billion in new funding for testing, plus $9 billion from the previous relief package approved in March.

“We’ll have $16 billion in a line tomorrow, and $9 billion that previously was not as clearly designated that they already had will now be clearly designated as testing, so the total testing money will be $25 billion,” Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, told reporters.

The overall relief package proposal is expected to cost about $1 trillion. Mr. McConnell also is pushing for liability protections for businesses as they reopen during the pandemic.

“I think our agreement reflects our priorities, which is back to school, back to child care, back to work,” Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, told reporters after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The GOP is eyeing a two-month extension of unemployment benefits, although no final decision has been made on the level of benefits. The current $600 weekly benefit expires at the end of this month.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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