With the Senate scheduled to return from its recess next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she is confident Democrats can come to an agreement with congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump on a looming pandemic stimulus relief package.
“I have no doubt they’ll come around,” Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg News, adding that she believes Republicans will agree to a virus stimulus package that is closer to around $3.5 trillion instead of the $1 trillion figure that is being eyed by GOP leaders. The House-passed HEROES Act included an extension of extra unemployment benefits, more $1,200 stimulus payments for more people, more funding to municipal and state governments, and other measures.
In the past week, the number of Americans filing for unemployment barely declined, meaning that there are still some challenges posed to economic recovery, according to Labor Department data.
Pelosi, in the interview with Bloomberg News, urged President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to produce equipment for CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus testing, along with an increase in production for masks and other equipment.
”We can get this done. The scientists have shown us the way,” the California Democrat said.
Pelosi added that the next bill will have to cost at least $1.3 trillion, but she stipulated that it’s not enough.
“They know there’s going to be a bill. … First it was going to be no bill. And then it was going to be some little bill. Now it’s $1.3 [trillion]. That’s not enough,” she told reporters in Washington.
The HEROES Act, passed by Democrats in the House in May, has been criticized by Republicans as allowing more felons and illegal immigrants to be freed from prison (pdf). It would also allow businesses to legally hire illegal immigrants.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) previously said that the bill would not pass the Senate, describing it as a “wish list” for Democrats.
McConnell has said that any new bill will have to include liability protection for doctors as well as businesses.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and some White House officials said there should be an additional round of $1,200 direct payments being sent out, although Trump told reporters weeks ago that he envisions the payments to be larger than what Democrats have proposed.
Republican senators also said they want to see the extra $600 weekly unemployment payments end, saying they create a disincentive for people to return to looking for work. Those payments are scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
The HEROES Act, meanwhile, would stipulate that the payments end early next year.