House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Moves Forward With Plans To Develop Another Coronavirus-Related Relief Program To Address Ongoing Public Health Crisis, Including More Direct Payments To Americans And Increase unemployment benefits.
Pelosi, in a letter to members of the House, said that she hoped to develop the legislation and present it to the House for a vote later this month.
The two chambers of Congress are slated to return to the nation’s capital on April 20, but much depends on the stability of the country as the deadly new virus continues to wreak havoc across the country.
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House and Senate leaders have acknowledged that the return of Congress on the 20th is not certain.
“The coronavirus is evolving rapidly and our communities cannot afford to wait. The Democrats in the House will continue to work tirelessly and bipartisan to raise American families and workers to protect their health, economic security and well-being today and throughout this crisis, “said Pelosi Friday.
In the letter sent over the weekend, Pelosi said she wanted to double “the deposit we paid into CARES ACT” by passing more laws to help communities in need.
Pelosi said she plans to expand and expand the legislation that will further help small businesses, including farmers. The legislation will also boost unemployment benefits and include a second round of direct payments to Americans, said Pelosi.
Pelosi admitted during a press call last week that she remains in touch with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who worked closely with Capitol Hill lawmakers in the last round of negotiations on the plan. $ 2 trillion stimulus package.
Pelosi said the legislation would also provide more help to state and local governments, hospitals, community health centers, health systems and health workers, as well as first responders.
“Our communities cannot afford to wait and we must act quickly. I hope we will develop and introduce this bill later this month, “said Pelosi in his letter.
Pelosi maintained a presence on Capitol Hill despite the fact that most of the members returned to their countries of origin immediately after adopting the $ 2 trillion stimulus package.
The 80-year-old speaker has toured several cable channels to interview the need for a fourth relief bill in recent days.
The renewed focus on providing relief and assistance to the stricken American workers is a change of tone from Pelosi and the House Democrats, who last week were very quick to draft legislation focusing on infrastructure. .
The move also occurred amidst a record number of Americans – 6.6 million – who applied for unemployment last week.
“Doesn’t it take your breath away?” Pelosi told reporters during a press call last week.
Republican leaders initially seemed to downplay the need for a fourth bill and said they wanted to “wait and see” how the $ 2 trillion relief program affected the economy and workers.
“She has to give up on the idea that we are going to take advantage of the crisis to do things unrelated to the crisis,” McConnell said in an interview with The Washington Post last week.
He called Pelosi’s speech the need for a fourth cycle of “premature” virus legislation.
Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Echoed McConnell, telling reporters that even if Pelosi “tries to talk about a fourth bill, I don’t think it is appropriate for the moment ”.
Asked about the split between the two congressional leaders, Mnuchin told reporters that he was in contact with the two of them.
“I spoke to the leader. I spoke to the speaker. I constantly talked to the president. When the president is ready and thinks we should take the next step, we are ready, “he said.
McConnell, late last week, appeared to be approaching Pelosi’s position on the need for a fourth package.
” [It] should be a more focused response to what we have done poorly and what we have not done enough – and at the top of the list there should be the health care part, “he said. in an interview Friday with the Associated. Hurry.
Pelosi is not only staying the course on the need for a fourth package, but also Thursday announced the creation of a bipartisan select committee to oversee the $ 2 trillion federal response to the coronavirus crisis.
Representative Jim Clyburn, the Democratic Whip, will chair the bipartisan panel, which will be empowered to “examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus and ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and efficiently.”
“The panel will eliminate waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against pricing, profits and political patronage, “she told reporters in a press call last week. “We need transparency and accountability. “
The committee will also work to ensure that the United States’ response to the epidemic is “based on the best science possible” and the advice of the best health experts, said Pelosi.
The committee will also have subpoena power.
Clyburn, whom Pelosi asked to oversee the oversight committee, said the committee would be “forward-looking” and would not focus on the Trump administration’s initial response to the coronavirus crisis.
“I understand that this committee will be looking to the future,” Democrat No. 3 in the House to CNN “State of the Union” said on Sunday.
Some Republicans have called the creation of the Pelosi oversight committee unnecessary.
“I don’t really think it’s necessary,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., At Capitol Hill, told reporters on Monday. Capito was in town to oversee a brief pro forma session of the Senate.
“We have oversight committees,” said Capito. “I don’t think it’s necessary, I think we’ve put in place a lot of safeguards and monitoring. “
President Trump also lambasted the new oversight committee.
“I want to remind everyone here in our nation’s capital, especially in Congress, that now is not the time for endless politics, partisan investigations,” Trump said in a briefing to the White House last week. “Here we are again. They have already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years. “
“It’s the witch hunt after the witch hunt after the witch hunt,” said Trump. “And in the end, it’s the people who hunt witches who lose – and they lost a lot. And now is not the time for witch hunts. “