- Dec 11, 2018
Trump, Congressional leaders converge on need for new coronavirus economic package, concerned recent $2 trillion law wasn’t enough
Political leaders believe more aid is needed to confront mounting economic problems.
Congressional leaders and the White House are converging on the need for a new package of assistance to try and contain the coronavirus pandemic’s economic devastation, fearful that a $2 trillion bailout law enacted last month will only have a limited effect.
House Democrats are eyeing a package of spending increases that would “easily” cost more than $1 trillion, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told lawmakers Monday, according to two officials on the conference call who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. Democrats are looking to add two additional months of unemployment assistance and another two months of small business assistance, among other things.
Trump has signaled support for some of the ideas Democrats back, such as expanded assistance to small business owners and new bailout checks for households. Republican leaders, meanwhile, have also called for more corporate aid and money to boost the overwhelmed health care system
Democrats are pushing for wider ranging relief measures to help hospitals, health care workers, farmers, first responders, and education programs, among other things. A group of House Democrats led by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) plan to roll out a proposal for $250 billion to assist smaller cities and communities they say have been shortchanged on assistance so far. A number of congressional Republicans have demanded an expansion of a new $349 billion small business program, and Trump has also said that initiative needs more money.
In a sign that lawmakers might be preparing to cut a new deal, Pelosi has backed off some of her recent proposals that Republicans found most objectionable, such as environmental initiatives. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he believes Congress will have to act again to address health care needs, among other things, opening the door to a pact. The two leaders spoke on Thursday.
“All I can tell you is, I think we’re going to definitely need [another rescue bill]," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer told reporters Monday. “And I think it’s going to have to be big and bold because the problem is so huge.”
Their work to mobilize new legislation came amid growing signs that the economy was deteriorating much faster than expected and that the initial $2 trillion law was proving insufficient. Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told Pelosi and House Democrats on their conference call that the actual unemployment rate is likely 13 percent, not the 4.4 percent the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. And Yellen said the number of new jobless claims this week will likely exceed last week’s 6.6 million, a record, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said on Twitter.
In a letter to Democratic members Sunday, Pelosi said “the acceleration of the coronavirus crisis demands that we continue to legislate.”
“We must double down on the down-payment we made in the Cares Act by passing a Cares 2 package, which will extend and expand this bipartisan legislation to meet the needs of the American people,” she said, calling not only for additional small business and unemployment aid, but also additional direct payments to supplement the $1,200 checks most U.S. taxpayers will begin receiving later this month.