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Lawmakers Examine Another Round of COVID-19 Relief for Businesses

GOP concerns about spending could scuttle the effort

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have held early discussions about another round of coronavirus stimulus spending as they seek to blunt the fast-spreading omicron variant and its urgent threats to public health and economic recovery.

The early efforts have focused primarily on authorizing billions of dollars to help an array of businesses — including restaurants, performance venues, gyms and even minor league sports teams — that face another potential blow to their already-battered balance sheets as a result of the evolving pandemic.

In recent weeks, the talks have been led by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), according to four people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe their work, which is ongoing. The duo in mid-December cobbled together the outlines of a roughly $68 billion proposal, two of the people said, which could include a mix of new spending and a repurposing of some unused cash authorized under previous packages.

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