House Democrats, lead by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are “forging ahead” with plans for a fourt coronavirus relief package, even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will not entertain any spending bills until they can be sure the multi-trillion handouts won’t topple the precarious American economy.
The CARES Act 4, as it’s being called, definitely seems as if it will run afoul of McConnell’s requirements.
Politico reports that Democrats have decided to “go it alone” on the package, drafting the measure without Republican input and without Republican consent, even though House Democrats have yet to officially return from April recess. Pelosi and House majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have called time on Democrats’ return, they say, over fears that the mostly elderly caucus would be at risk for contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
While they’re working from home, though, key Democratic legislators are to compile “wish lists” and submit them to Pelosi who, Politico says, will compile them into a final document to be presented with Congress finally reconvenes.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her chairmen to submit their drafts for “CARES 2” before the close of business yesterday, with the goal of releasing a sweeping proposal by Friday that could be ready for a floor vote as soon as next week,” the outlet noted.
And Pelosi doesn’t want small asks: “‘Think big,’ Pelosi instructed lawmakers on a Democratic caucus call.’”
McConnell is poised to refuse to bring a massive spending bill to the floor, but Pelosi seems to believe that, if Democrats compile a “policy wishlist,” they can use the bloated draft to negotiate down to a suitable bill. For her part, she’s reportedly including items from her March “CARES Act 3” proposal, which sidelined that relief bill for days as Senate Republicans and Democrats, who’d previously agreed on a relief package, argued over Pelosi’s minutae.
Included there, and potentially in the CARES 4 bill, was a bailout of the United States Post Office, and major handouts to state and local governments. The latter, at least, is expected to be a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in the next round of negotiations, particularly as states like Illinois seek bailouts for financial troubles that long predate coronavirus lockdowns.
McConnell has already said he’d favor allowing states to declare bankruptcy before he’d allow taxpayer money, designed to help states and municipalities handle coronavirus-specific issues, to go to pay off unfunded pension liabilities and budget shortfalls.
Republicans, meanwhile, told Politico that any new relief package must include liability restrictions — something Democrats say they won’t support — and a payroll tax cut, which neither party wanted included in previous relief packages. The White House has been the main proponent of the payroll tax cut, which they say would help businesses, shut down by coronavirus lockdowns, make a quicker return to profitability.
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