Consensus Begins to Develop Phase 4 Coronavirus Relief

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But while President Donald Trump also supported the idea of ​​a multi-billion dollar infrastructure package, Pelosi’s speech met with strong opposition from other high-ranking Republicans, including the leader of the majority of the Senate Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Republicans almost uniformly pushed for a philosophy of slowness given the breadth of the bill they just approved.

“After passing a $ 2.2 trillion law, you should probably take a deep breath and see what works and needs to be changed and spend time making it work,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn .), Who chairs a key health and education committee.

Yet Republicans are also increasingly recognizing that they will have to act again, mainly in terms of extending the benefits for small businesses of paying employees and covering expenses beyond eight weeks. Alexander said the current policy could conflict with local authorities ordering workers to stay at home.

“Not all pieces of the puzzle fit together when we encourage: Pay your employees for eight weeks. And the state is closing the restaurant, “said Alexander. “And then the second is: I think it will run out of money. A large bank told me it was waiting for a million requests. “

“We are already working on ideas for phase 4 and we are collecting these ideas from voters in Colorado, we have some adjustments to the CARES law that I think would be appropriate for phase 4,” added Senator Cory Gardner ( R -Colo.). “I would like to see a more advanced infrastructure bill. Maybe it’s phase 4, maybe it’s phase 5. But there are going to be additional actions. ”

And privately, some Democrats have expressed concern that such a vast plan could alienate voters, especially if Republicans can make a convincing statement that Democrats are more focused on Liberal priorities than needs related to coronaviruses.

Pelosi’s linchpin comes after the release of surprising new unemployment figures showing a record number of 10 million Americans who have applied for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks. The numbers are expected to increase dramatically in the coming weeks as federal agencies process claims filed in the past few weeks as the coronavirus pandemic begins to shut down the US economy.

“How long could we extend [small business loan program], two months to three months or three months to four months? Can we expand unemployment insurance? Can we send a second check? “Said Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), Discussing the possibilities Congress may face by the end of the month.

A source close to Pelosi said the alarming unemployment figures had influenced his thinking about the need to limit the direction of the next legislative package, but warned that nothing is set in stone since the Democrats have yet to draft a plan of law.

The timetable for any legislative action remains uncertain. Both the House and the Senate are out of session until April 20, and this could be further extended if leaders of Congress find it unsafe for members to travel to and work at the Capitol.

Jake Sherman and Quint Forgey contributed to this report.

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