House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House should vote on a pandemic relief bill even if it does not receive bipartisan support.
Hoyer told reporters that he hopes for a bipartisan deal on more stimulus funds that could pass in the Republican-controlled Senate and won’t be vetoed by President Donald Trump.
“There may not be any agreement; there may not be an ability to put a bill together in that time frame. But I have been urging for some weeks that we do an alternative response to the Senate,” Hoyer said, reported The Hill.
“Not because I think we ought to negotiate with ourselves,” he added, saying Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “has set the amount of resources that we’re prepared to deal with. And I think we ought to put that into legislation and … give it to the Senate. The Senate will do with it what they will, but I hope they will pass it and send it to the president and he’ll sign it.”
Later, Hoyer said that if the Democrats win the Senate and White House, more stimulus funding will be passed.
Pelosi has said that a bill worth less than around $2.2 trillion will not pass in the House, while White House officials and Senate have rejected her offer. Last week, a group of bipartisan House lawmakers offered a $1.5 trillion bill that includes $450-per-week unemployment benefits, $500 billion to state and local governments, and $1,200 stimulus checks.
The bipartisan deal, which was co-sponsored by moderate Democrats and Republicans, was rejected by Pelosi. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump called on Republicans to pass a bill worth more than $500 billion and again said stimulus payments should be distributed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a House Democratic-led panel earlier this week that the Trump administration still supports the direct payments.
“I think we ought to be taking up COVID-19 legislation before we leave here, and I don’t think we ought to wait,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “People are really hurting.”
But he warned that moderate Democrats should not support the bipartisan legislation because it would weaken the Democrats’ negotiation position with the White House.
“I would hope that no Democrat would sign a discharge petition, which turns over control of the House floor to the other party, the minority party,” he added. “But what I hope they would do is urge that we pass a bill which reflects—perhaps it means a substantial reduction in what we thought was necessary—but nevertheless dealing with all of the issues that are critical if we’re going to confront COVID-19 and building the economy.”