House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on leaders in her caucus to put together a new stimulus bill that would offer aid to restaurants and airlines, fund another round of unemployment benefits, and send a second stimulus check to millions of Americans.
According to a story in The Washington Post, the new legislation would cost $2.4 trillion, down from the $3.4 trillion HEROS bill passed by the House in April, but still topping the $2.2 trillion aid package the speaker tried to negotiate in late August.
Talks ended on that plan when both Democrats and Republicans left the bargaining table, after the GOP said that package was too costly.
“We are still striving for an agreement,” Pelosi, D-California, said in a Democratic leadership meeting held this week.
In addition to unemployment, help for airlines and restaurants, and stimulus checks, the legislation is likely to include aid to local and state governments — a sticking point for Republicans — money for small businesses, rental assistance, and funds for election security and the U.S. Postal Service.
Moderate Democrats have urged Pelosi in recent weeks to resume negotiations for a stimulus bill over fears that their chances for reelection could be damaged. The bill would help struggling Americans contend with the continuing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the story in the Post, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who flipped a GOP seat in her district, is sending Pelosi a letter that says, in part: “We write to you now to implore you to bring a revised and streamlined COVID-19 relief package to the floor next week. Americans are counting on us; they cannot wait any longer.”
Pelosi had been negotiating another stimulus plan with Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Talks for another round of relief broke down in August when Democrats presented a 2.2 trillion stimulus bill in response to a $1.6 trillion bill from Republicans.
Mnuchin, in testimony before Congress this week, said he was ready to continue working on a bill to fund relief measures for Americans suffering through six-and-a-half months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do think we need comprehensive relief,” Mnuchin testified Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee. “I’m available anytime.”
When asked by reporters about Pelosi’s bill, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., dismissed the plan as “politics.”
“It shows again she’s not serious about getting a COVID relief bill, that she’s just playing politics,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California. “And what’s really sad about this is it’s really hurting the American public.”
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