House Democrats released their latest bill Tuesday designed to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effects on the economy and health-care system…
Party leaders expect to vote on the more-than-1,800-page package on Friday, along with a plan to allow proxy voting on legislation during the crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday said Congress had a “momentous opportunity” to meet people’s needs, contending that “not acting is the most expensive course” as the GOP grows weary of taxpayer spending.
It includes, according to a summary:
- Nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments
- A second round of direct payments of $1,200 per person, and up to $6,000 for a household
- About $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers who face heightened health risks during the crisis
- $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing — a key effort to restart businesses
- An extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January (the provision approved in March is set to expire after July)
- $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance
- Subsidies and a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period to people who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage
- More money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including a 15% increase in the maximum benefit
- Measures designed to buoy small businesses and help them keep employees on payroll, such as $10 billion in emergency disaster assistance grants and a strengthened employee retention tax credit
- Money for election safety during the pandemic and provisions to make voting by mail easier
- Relief for the U.S. Postal Service
Democrats say rising Covid-19 infection rates and an unemployment rate unseen since the Great Depression require adding to an already unprecedented emergency government response. The new bill is set to cost more than $3 trillion, which easily tops the $2 trillion cost of the late March stimulus package — the biggest emergency spending measure in U.S. history.
If it passes the House, the Democratic-written plan will face roadblocks in the Senate. It is unclear when both Democrats and Republicans would sign off on a proposal for more relief, as the GOP downplays the need to spend more federal money on a rescue bill now.
“I’m in discussion, we all are with the administration, if we reach a decision along with the administration to move to another phase, that’ll be the time to interact with the Democrats,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
He continued: “But what you’ve seen in the House is not something designed to deal with reality, but designed to deal with aspirations.”
McConnell has taken issue with Pelosi’s priority of…
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