No deal yet on coronavirus relief; Pelosi remains ‘hopeful’
“We’re at the table discussing how we go forward with a possible COVID bill,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday.
“We’re hopeful that we can reach agreement because the needs of the American people are so great,” the top House Democrat added. “But there has to be a recognition that it takes money to do that.”
Pelosi signaled the House would move forward with a vote as soon as Thursday on the Democrats’ latest offer: a $2.2 trillion relief bill. If passed, it would be the second bill the House passed since May to address the pandemic while the Senate has failed to advance anything.
The House was prepared to pass the legislation Wednesday, but the vote was delayed in case Pelosi and Mnuchin could forge a new bipartisan compromise.
“We are not finished,” Pelosi said of the state of talks. “I’m hopeful. But we do come at it from two different places.”
Mnuchin had been negotiating on behalf of the White House, while Senate Republicans have rejected any new massive spending bill over concerns of the rising deficit. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday called the Democrats’ latest offer of $2.2 trillion “outlandish” and suggested his GOP majority wants to stay around $500 billion.
The House originally passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May known as the HEROES Act — the largest spending bill on record in U.S. history. But the Senate rebuked the legislation as an overpriced liberal wish list. McConnell offered up two counter-proposals in the months since at $1 trillion and about $300 billion, respectively, but neither could pass the Senate as Democrats said the effort didn’t meet the gravity of the pandemic.
The $2.2 trillion House bill up for a vote, known as HEROES 2.0, would give Americans an economic lifeline as previous coronavirus relief programs have dried up.
The legislation would provide additional direct payments of $1,200 per taxpayer (included undocumented immigrants who pay taxes) and $500 per dependent, restore unemployment benefits of $600 weekly federal assistance through January and revive the Paycheck Protection Program to serve the smallest businesses and struggling nonprofits.