House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said April 26 that the fifth COVID-19 relief bill will include “significant” funding for state and local governments, as demand soars across the nation amid the pandemic.
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi pushed back against criticism from governors nationwide, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said last week that state funding and federal support should have been granted in previous legislation.
“Just calm down,” Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper when asked whether House Democrats made a tactical error in supporting the latest relief package. “We will have state and local, and we will have it in a very significant way.”
Responding to Cuomo’s remarks that he would have “insisted” on including pandemic funds for states in the latest CCP virus relief package, Pelosi said that it’s “no use going on to what might have been.”
The Senate last week negotiated a $484 billion CCP virus relief package, which includes aid for small businesses, hospitals, and funds for increased CCP virus testing. It didn’t include funding for state and local governments. The nearly half-trillion-dollar package was added to the $2.2 trillion rescue package passed by Congress in March to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic.
Pelosi suggested that the “impatience” of state governors for federal aid will assist Democrats in negotiating for more funding in the forthcoming CCP virus relief package.
“The governors are impatient. I’m a big fan of Governor Cuomo. My own governor, Gavin Newsom, has been spectacular, my mayor, Mayor Breed. The state and local have done their jobs magnificently,” she said. “They should be impatient. Their impatience will help us get an even bigger number.”
Amid relief talks, funding for state and local governments has become a point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on April 26 that “we’ll consider” additional funding, adding, “This is a war—we’ll win this war. If we need to spend more money, we will, and we’ll only do it with bipartisan support.”
Pelosi last week told Bloomberg Television that the $484 billion CCP virus relief package is an “interim” step to soften some of the impact the pandemic has had on the U.S. economy.
“Now we have to go further to help state and local” governments, she said. “The president himself has said, he as tweeted out, that was last night, that he is ready to do state and local” in the fifth relief bill.
Trump signaled on Twitter that items left out of the recent bill, such as payroll tax cuts, infrastructure initiatives, and fiscal relief to state and local governments for lost revenues from COVID-19, could be included in the next round of aid.
The Democrat agenda for state funding has already seen some Republican pushback, with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) telling a conservative talk radio host on April 22 that federal aid to states could amount to bailing out cash-strapped states controlled by Democratic administrations.
“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
Pelosi hasn’t yet specified her expectations for the price tag of the next bill, but she said last week during a press conference that it would be “expensive.”
She also hinted that the fifth COVID-19 relief bill will be used to support mail-in and absentee voting efforts.
“We have to have an important chunk of money in this next bill that will enable us to protect the integrity of our elections, as well as enable the American people to vote by mail, especially at this time of a health danger in going to the polls,” Pelosi told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on April 22.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Fox News on April 26 that Congress should be reopened to conduct oversight, as he believes the World Health Organization (WHO) is acting “more like the Wuhan Health Organization.”
“You have appropriators making sure government is funded,” he said. “You could bring oversight back to look at the WHO and this current administration; the WHO is acting not like the World Health organization, but more like the Wuhan Health Organization.”
On April 7, Trump ordered a pause on U.S. taxpayer funding for the WHO, a United Nations agency, while U.S. officials review the organization’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.