House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has begun assembling a next round of stimulus legislation that would include significant funds for cash-strapped states facing record revenue shortfalls and more direct payments to individuals.Just three days after the largest economic relief package in U.S. history was enacted, Pelosi said Monday she is aiming to have a bipartisan bill ready to vote on when the House returns from recess after April 20.
“We are not coming back for a few weeks but I do think we can do our committee work in the meantime,” Pelosi told reporters on a conference call.
Many of the priorities she and other senior Democrats listed had been previously outlined and were part of their alternative stimulus legislation but were rejected by Senate leaders in negotiations with President Donald Trump’s administration. Pelosi gave no details on how much the plan would cost.
In an interview with the New York Times published on Monday, she said that another possibility was getting rid of the limit on state and local tax deductions, or SALT, that was part of the president’s 2017 tax overhaul. Pelosi’s home state of California was among those affected by the SALT limits.She also suggested that such a move, sure to encounter strong Republican opposition, should be retroactive.
But a spokesman for Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Finance Committee, called the idea “a nonstarter.” Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus package into law last Friday. But there’s been a growing consensus in Washington that more will be needed to revive an economy being choked by business shutdowns and restrictions being imposed in states like New York where the outbreak has been most pronounced.
Trump has abandoned his ambition to return American life to normal by Easter and said guidelines for Americans to practice “social distancing” would remain in place until at least April 30, as he warned that 100,000 or more people may die.Read More: Trump’s Easter Restart Undone by His Experts’ Dire Virus ModelsThere already appears to be appetite building in the Senate for another round of relief.“If the crisis continues for substantially longer I have no doubt that the Congress will have to act again,” Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said Monday on Bloomberg Television.House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone said on the Democrats’ call that the supply chain for protective equipment for medical personnel is stretched and the shortages may not be completely alleviated by the last stimulus.Pallone added that the next bill may create a federal point-person for the medical equipment supply chain and a database.
He said providing free treatment for Covid-19 and expanding access to Internet broadband and clean water also will be priorities for Democrats in the next congressional response to the coronavirus pandemic.Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott said Democrats want to mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration set enforcible standards for guarding against airborne diseases for health care workers and expand regulations to cover more workers, including individuals working at grocery stores and other essential businesses.
“It is clear we need to do more and that is particularly true in the case of protecting health care workers and front-line responders,” Scott said.On Monday’s call, Pelosi also said she wants the next bill to have another round of direct cash payments for individuals, and these payments could be larger than the last round.Last week’s bill provided direct payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, with the payment phasing out for individuals making more than $75,000 per year and couples making more than $150,000.Those without income, or with income solely from government benefits, like seniors on Social Security, are eligible. Individuals making above $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000 receive no payment. Checks are expected to go out in April.Pelosi said Democrats will again attempt to increase food stamp benefits, expand family leave for those caring for covid-19 patients, include pension guarantees, and propose infrastructure projects.House Democrats plan a caucus-wide call Friday afternoon to discuss ideas for the new bill. The House is not expected to return to Washington for votes before April 20, but could return if there is a need to pass legislation, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told lawmakers Monday. Pelosi said she didn’t expect agreement on a bipartisan bill before April 20.
— With assistance by Daniel Flatley(Updates with Grassley spokesman’s comment, in seventh paragraph.)
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