House Dems Unveil $2.2T Virus Aid Plan 09/29 06:21
House Democrats unveiled a scaled-back $2.2 trillion aid measure Monday in
an attempt to boost long-stalled talks on COVID-19 relief, though there was no
sign of progress in continuing negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats unveiled a scaled-back $2.2 trillion aid
measure Monday in an attempt to boost long-stalled talks on COVID-19 relief,
though there was no sign of progress in continuing negotiations between House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The latest Democratic measure would revive a $600-per-week pandemic jobless
benefit and send a second round of $1,200 direct payments to most individuals.
It would scale back an aid package to state and local governments to a
still-huge $436 billion, send a whopping $225 billion to colleges and
universities, and deliver another round of subsidies to businesses under the
Paycheck Protection Program.
The proposal represents a cutback from a $3.4 billion bill that passed the
House in May, but remains well above what Senate Republicans are willing to
accept. Republicans have endorsed staying in the $650 billion to $1 trillion
Pelosi said Monday that she remains in contact with Mnuchin, with whom she
negotiated several earlier relief packages. The two spoke briefly on Sunday and
Monday evening and are slated to talk again Tuesday morning, according to
Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill.
"We've come down $1 trillion, and they need to come up because we have to
crush this virus," Pelosi said Monday on MSNBC. "It takes money to crush the
virus. It takes money to make the schools safe. It takes money to put money in
Talks over the summer broke down in acrimony and name-calling, and
conversations this month haven't produced visible progress. Even if the rival
sides could agree on a "top line" figure from which to negotiate details,
dozens of difficult issues would remain to be sorted out.
For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is insisting
that a liability shield against potential lawsuits brought against businesses,
schools and universities that reopen during the pandemic be part of the
legislation. Pelosi opposes the idea and didn't include it in Monday's
Democrats say the purpose of the new draft legislation is to show good faith
and spark a more meaningful round of talks. But it also comes after party
moderates and "front line" lawmakers in swing districts protested that
Democratic leaders were being too inflexible.
Pelosi's office has said she's considering putting the new measure up for a
floor vote if talks this week with the Trump administration prove fruitless.
"Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated
bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis
facing America's working families right now," Pelosi said in a letter to her
colleagues. "We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost
of the bill by shortening the time covered for now."