- The Washington Times
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin held another round of coronavirus relief talks Tuesday morning, as House Democrats ready their own $2.2 trillion package.

The two spoke for nearly an hour Tuesday morning about the Democrats’ new plan that’s serving as their last offer to the GOP before the election. They’re set to continue on Wednesday, according to Mrs. Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hamill.

“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America’s working families right now,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said. “We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.”

The package was unveiled Monday evening, teeing up a vote for vulnerable House Democrats before they return to their districts on a scaled-down version of the approximately $3.4 trillion package the party had been sticking to since May.

The bill is expected to get a vote sometime this week, though no date has been officially set yet. This package is unlikely to gain any traction in the GOP controlled Senate.

It reauthorizes the small business Paycheck Protection, provides another round of the $1,200 stimulus checks, $225 for education and $57 billion for child care, $75 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing, and relief for the airline and restaurant industries.

The bill also includes several top Democratic priorities with increased food assistance benefits, $436 billion in state, local, and tribal government funding, ramps up OSHA worker protections, and restores the $600 a week boosted unemployment payments.

But with that $2.2 trillion price tag, it’s still likely to be too expensive for Republicans.

This week is essentially Congress’ last shot at passing any COVID-relief before the November election.

The last bill, a $500 billion “skinny” bill offered by Senate Republicans, was shot down at the beginning of the month.

When asked by reporters how likely a deal is this week, Mrs. Pelosi said she’s “hopeful.”

House Republicans began actively whipping against the Democrats’ new bill Tuesday afternoon.

“This is nothing more than a messaging exercise intended to appease the far-left base by included progressive policies that have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the House Minority Whip’s team said in a memo to their members. “Neither this bill nor anything like it will ever become law and Republicans should remain unified against this partisan power grab.”

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.