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Date: 2024-06-23 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00018828

Covid-19 Emergency
First Draft of HEROES Act

Pelosi unveils $3 trillion coronavirus relief plan amid squeeze from left and right ... The package marks a first move in negotiations with Republicans.


Peter Burgess
CONGRESS Pelosi unveils $3 trillion coronavirus relief plan amid squeeze from left and right The package marks a first move in negotiations with Republicans. Pelosi unveils $3 trillion coronavirus relief plan Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are planning to move ahead with a Friday vote on a $3 trillion package to respond to the coronavirus crisis, despite protests from progressives that the bill doesn’t go far enough. President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans also object to the Democratic proposal, saying there hasn’t been enough time since the $2 trillion CARES Act passed to determine whether new legislation is needed or necessary. Yet Pelosi and top House Democrats will proceed despite political attacks from the left and right, arguing that a 14.7 percent unemployment rate — which is sure to rise over coming months — justifies the need for Congress to “think big” in its response to the pandemic. 'We must think big for the people now because if we don’t it will cost more in lives and livelihood later,' Pelosi said in a speech announcing the bill on the speaker's balcony Tuesday afternoon. 'Not acting is the most expensive course,' Pelosi added. 'We are presenting a plan to do what is necessary to deal with the corona crisis and make sure we can get the country back to work and school safely.' Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are seeking to postpone any vote until next week so that members can fully digest the bill and potentially push for changes. CPC members have been advised to say they're 'undecided' when party leaders conduct a whip check, according to a notice sent out to progressives. Jayapal and Pocan sent a letter to Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday seeking the delay, asking to have a full caucus discussion on 'the bill and any amendments that might be needed.' 'Under no circumstances are we ready to vote on the bill this week,' Jayapal declared in an interview. If Pelosi and Hoyer lose support from the left, it will jeopardize their chances for passing the legislation as few, if any, Republicans will vote for it. Both Jayapal and Pocan have objected that one of their caucus's chief priorities — a plan that includes federal funding for small-business payrolls — wasn’t included in the House measure. Jayapal said she was still reviewing the 1,815-page bill and wasn't prepared to support the measure yet. 'I'm reviewing it,' Jayapal said, focusing on three areas: help for the unemployed to get them back to work, access to health care and support for small businesses. Advertisement Jayapal pushed hard for inclusion of the “Paycheck Guarantee” program in the new bill, but senior Democrats contend they weren't able to turn the proposal into legislative text, saying it is too costly and complicated. The Jayapal plan — which is backed by more than 60 House Democrats — has a price tag of more than $650 billion for six months. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Neal (D-Mass.) instead supported an extension of the “Employee Retention Tax Credit” backed by Democratic moderates, which still costs more than $200 billion. Jayapal’s complaints, which she raised directly to Pelosi on a caucus call on Tuesday, reflect broader concerns among Democrats, some of whom feel Pelosi and her committee leaders have largely drafted the bill without rank-and-file input. Republicans and the White House also were not involved in drafting the measure. But Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that he and Pelosi “believe the Jayapal proposal has great merit to it' and said it could be considered in future relief bills. 'This is not going to be the last word nor the final word as we go forward. And her proposal is certainly under great discussion,' Hoyer said. 'We want all members to support this legislation with that provision in or out.' Progressives privately acknowledge they are in a difficult spot to push Democratic leaders in any direction. Even the most liberal Democrats say they’re unlikely to stage an uprising against this bill because they can’t vote against vital aid for their districts, depriving themselves of key leverage that might otherwise help get their priorities into the bill. Democrats released their sprawling package, known as the Heroes Act, on Tuesday afternoon. The legislation includes $875 billion for cash for state and local governments, what Democratic leaders say is the centerpiece of the fifth coronavirus relief package. It also includes $20 billion each for tribal nations and for U.S. territories. The measure also includes provisions to support multi-employer pensions. Democrats also included $75 billion to ramp up coronavirus testing and contact tracing — an effort that both parties say will be crucial to reopening state economies. 'We can all agree that we must open our economy as quickly as we can but we must do so based on science and data,' Pelosi said Thursday. 'The key to opening the door is testing, tracing, treatment and social distancing.' The legislation also includes a slew of liberal priorities left out of previous bills, including $75 billion for mortgage relief and $100 billion in assistance for renters, $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service and $3.6 billion to shore up elections. The bill goes further than previous bills in other ways, too: It would include another round of $1,200 checks for adults making up to $75,000. Under this bill, kids would receive the same amount, instead of $500. It would make $10 billion available to small businesses that haven’t received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. It also includes policy changes sought long before the pandemic, such as restoring the ability to deduct state and local taxes, which had been capped in the GOP tax bill in 2017. Another provision would allow cannabis businesses expanded access to bank accounts and loans. The package also includes a bipartisan bill related to the collection of hate crimes data. Before the measure was released, Pelosi had cautioned members on a Tuesday call that some would be “disappointed” by what was left out of the bill. Pelosi said she and her committee chairs had initially assembled $4 trillion worth of policy proposals, but were forced to winnow it down during final drafting. 'Everything is big, and we can't do everything in this bill,” Pelosi said, according to people on the call. Democrats have signaled that more legislation would follow, such as a recovery package with major infrastructure investments. The Democratic bill represents a dramatic escalation of the party’s efforts to deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic. The shutdown of the U.S. economy has spurred unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression, and Democrats, like Trump and Republicans, are struggling to respond. Republicans dismissed the bill even before the text was public, calling it a Democratic wishlist that would go nowhere in the GOP-controlled Senate. It’s unlikely Congress passes another relief package before June due to Republican resistance, despite Pelosi’s efforts to get her bill to the House floor by the end of this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) panned the House proposal as 'not something designed to deal with reality but designed to deal with aspirations.' 'I'm in discussion, we all are, with the administration,' he told reporters Tuesday. 'If we reach a decision along with the administration to move to another phase, that will be the time to interact with the Democrats.' Still, Pelosi and her deputies hope it will pressure Senate GOP leaders into negotiations on a next package, even as McConnell has said Congress should hit “pause” until lawmakers can determine the success of its previous bills. Democrats acknowledge that their behemoth proposal, whose summary alone is 90 pages, is more of a talking point than legislation that they expect to become law. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a moderate leader in the caucus, acknowledged on Tuesday some parts of the Democrats’ package wouldn’t become law, but said some provisions — like an employee tax retention credit — have bipartisan support. “I think the larger bill is a negotiating start-point,” Murphy said. The coronavirus relief aid isn’t the House’s only legislative work this week. Pelosi and other top Democrats will also push through a House rules change that will allow proxy voting and remote hearings. There had been bipartisan talks between Hoyer and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on the issue, but the two sides haven’t been able to find a compromise. Democrats now say they will move ahead with a rules change anyway. The House Rule Committee will meet Thursday to approve the plan, which will allow lawmakers to cast votes remotely for colleagues who can’t travel to Washington amid the outbreak. The full House would then take up the rules change — which would only be in effect during this current crisis — on Friday. Marianne LeVine contributed to this report. FILED UNDER: NANCY PELOSI, STENY HOYER, DONALD TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP 2020, SHOW COMMENTS POLITICO Facebook Twitter Link More POLITICO NEWSLETTERS POLITICO Nightly: Coronavirus Special Edition Your daily update on how the illness is affecting politics, markets, public health and more. 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By HEATHER CAYGLE, SARAH FERRIS and JOHN BRESNAHAN ... Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.
05/12/2020 12:49 PM EDT Updated: 05/12/2020 06:04 PM EDT
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