House Democrats are preparing a new COVID-19 relief bill with a possible vote scheduled over the coming days.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) confirmed that leaders of his caucus are discussing a package that is around $2.4 trillion. They said that an ideal solution would be a deal with the White House, coming weeks after the two parties reached an impasse over aid to certain provisions.
“I don’t have an expectation at this point in time [for a vote] because our focus is we want to get a deal or an agreement with Mnuchin and the Senate because we want a bill passed and signed so that’s what our focus is, trying to get an agreement before we go home,” Hoyer told news outlets on Thursday.
“We’re really focused on trying to get a negotiated deal—the reason being that a message bill is one thing, but we want to get something signed so people get money,” he added.
Amid the impasse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both said Democrats did enough by passing the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May but later offered $1 trillion less. Republicans have taken issue with the $1 trillion that would be provided to cities and states, while some described other provisions as a “socialist manifesto.”
However, in recent days, some Democrats have grown anxious about the lack of new relief measures to deal with economic damage caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Earlier in September, a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans in the House introduced a $1.5 trillion deal that includes stimulus payments, some unemployment benefits, and $500 billion for state and local governments. Hoyer and other Democrats rejected their proposal.
But some House Republicans expressed skepticism over the latest proposal.
“It shows again she’s not serious about getting a COVID relief bill, and she’s just playing politics,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “And what’s really sad about this is it’s really hurting the American public, those who are unemployed, the small businesses.”
Meanwhile, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both expressed a willingness to restart talks.
“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the [continuing resolution],” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee, referring to the resolution that will extend funding the government until December. He said that he and Pelosi have “agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” referring to the stimulus bill that was passed in March that included—among other things—direct payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and small business loans.
“If the Democrats are willing to sit down, I’m willing to sit down anytime for bipartisan legislation, let’s pass something quickly,” Mnuchin added.
Pelosi, meanwhile, said at her weekly news conference that she is “eager to hear what they have to say when they come, but we’ll be hopefully soon to the table with them, very soon, showing you where our money would be spent.”