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Coronavirus: Pelosi unveils $3trn in additional relief, despite progressives’ complaints it doesn’t go far enough


Coronavirus: Pelosi unveils $3trn in additional relief, despite progressives’ complaints it doesn’t go far enough

Coronavirus: Pelosi unveils $3trn in additional relief, despite progressives’ complaints it doesn’t go far enough

Coronavirus: Pelosi unveils $3trn in additional relief, despite progressives' complaints it doesn't go far enough 1

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled House votes for Friday on a new coronavirus response package worth more than $3trn, as tensions with progressives continue to simmer over whether the legislation goes far enough.

The package unveiled on Tuesday, which Ms Pelosi has variably dubbed “CARES 2” as a follow-up to the $2.2trn so-called CARES Act passed in March but is also being touted as the “Heroes Act,” has virtually no chance of being signed into law with the Republican majority in the Senate and the Trump administration both opposing it.

Still, Ms Pelosi is moving forward with the 1,800-page proposal that includes billions of dollars for state and local governments, help for people struggling with rent and mortgage payments, expanded mail-in voting for the elections this November, and an infrastructure package that includes a plan to expand broadband internet access.


“Members are advised that first votes are expected as early as 10:00 a.m. on Friday,” states an advisory from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent around to lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Members are further advised that due to the accommodations being made for the health fo all Members and staff and to limit the number of people on the House Floor, last votes of the day are expected to occur into the evening,” the message from Mr Hoyer reads.

The House is also expected to vote on a rule change to make it easier for the chamber to work remotely.

While the Democratic bill released on Tuesday includes progressive priorities such as expanded mail-in voting and an increase in food stamp benefits, it does not incorporate a $600bn plan from Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington that would use federal money to guarantee struggling businesses’ payroll expenses.

Ms Jayapal’s “Paycheck Guarantee” proposal has earned the endorsement of more than 60 House Democrats, as well as the AFL-CIO, former Clinton Labour Secretary Robert Reich, and renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz.

But moderate Democrats quashed that proposal and opted for extending the so-called Employee Retention Tax Credit, a $200bn programme.


 



Democrats did not dismiss Ms Jayapal’s proposal out of hand, however. In a virtual pen-and-pad on Tuesday, Mr Hoyer told reporters the congresswoman’s bill “has great merit to it” and indicated it could wend its way into future legislation.

While freshman New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been the only Democrat to vote against any of the previous four coronavirus bills that, together, have cost the federal government north of $2.7trn, progressive have been far from happy with the final products.

Several progressive outside groups actively lobbied for CPC members to reject the $2.2trn CARES Act and a $484bn “interim” bill passed in April, arguing that neither went far enough to advance their agenda.

House Republicans uniformly oppose the new $3trn bill released on Tuesday, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise branding it a “partisan spending bill full of liberal wish list items that [Ms Pelosi] wrote completely in secret.”

Republicans have mostly declined for the time being to take part in negotiations on the next bill, adopting a wait-and-see approach as many of the funds from previous legislation is still being rolled out.


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