Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spent their extended recess working on a “multi-trillion dollar” “Rooseveltian” fourth coronavirus relief package that they’re set to unveil as early as next week, signaling the start of a major battle between Democrats and Republicans over yet another massive government spending bill.
Pelosi commanded Democratic leadership to submit “wish lists” to her office earlier this week, telling House committee leaders and other key lawmakers to “think big” on relief projects. As a result, she and Schumer have, Fox News reports, compiled the “most far-reaching effort yet to address the economic fallout of the pandemic” — a “legislative laundry list” that will likely dwarf the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which passed back in March.
“We’re looking at a multitrillion-dollar bill,” one legislator told the network.
Schumer expanded on that assessment, comparing the draft bill to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, designed to address the massive economic fallout of the Great Depression.
“We need big, bold action,” Schumer told MSNBC Thursday, adding that Democrats “are working very closely together on putting together a very strong plan, which you will hear shortly.”
“We need Franklin Rooseveltian-type action and we hope to take that in the House and Senate in a very big and bold way,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been clear that he will not support the passage of yet another mega-spending bill, at least until he and others can be sure that such a bill will not have a disparate impact on the already shaky American economy. He’s also flat-out refused to allow Democrats to include bailouts for states like Illinois, whose financial difficulties long predate the novel coronavirus.
Democrats say they intend to make “relief funds” for states and municipalities a key feature of the next package and Fox News says “just the aid alone to hard-hit states and local governments could reach nearly $1 trillion,” based on statements Pelosi made to her caucus last week.
Roll Call reports that there are some key details beginning to emerge about the bill, even though Pelosi and Schumer say they won’t make the text available until at least next week. In its current state, the bill expands greatly on the Paycheck Protection Program that provides forgivable- and low-interest loans to qualifying small businesses, but eliminates the requirement that companies spend 75% of the loan funds on payroll.
The bill also reportedly sets aside a whopping $25 billion to bail out the United States Postal Service, and creates a fund for handouts to theaters, museums, landmarks, and others cultural services — a controversial part of Pelosi’s last draft relief package — that could total more than $10.5 billion.
Other Dems, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are pushing for a minimum $2,000-per-person monthly living stipend for most Americans.
The full bill is expected to be made public next week.
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