According to a new report from Bloomberg, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hopes to bring up the 4th coronavirus package later this month.
Per Bloomberg, communities in the U.S. “cannot afford to wait” for the next coronavirus stimulus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to House lawmakers, adding “it is my hope that we will craft this legislation and bring it to the floor later this month.”
The next package “must go further in assisting small businesses including farmers, extending and strengthening unemployment benefits and giving families additional direct payments,” according to Pelosi. She said it would give more resources to state and local governments, health care including hospitals and medical workers, and first responders.
Pelosi has scaled back her ambitions for Congress’s next coronavirus stimulus package to focus on additional direct payments to individuals and expanded loans to businesses, possibly leaving an $800 billion infrastructure plan and other Democratic priorities for a later bill.
The Hill reports Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are publicly at odds over a potential fourth coronavirus package.
The two leaders, whose public relationship has been tense in recent weeks, are taking different tactics on follow-up legislation and sparring through the media on next steps to address the devastating economic and health effects of the pandemic.
The mixed messaging, which comes as lawmakers are out of town until at least April 20, underscores the looming challenge to keeping the congressional response to the coronavirus bipartisan. The first three bills passed with overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle.
Pelosi has held near-daily calls with reporters and moved aggressively to outline what she views as top priorities for Democrats in the next measure: transportation, free coronavirus treatment, more money for states and other issues like worker protections and boosted paid family and sick leave.
“The coronavirus is moving swiftly, and our communities cannot afford for us to wait. House Democrats will continue to work relentlessly and in a bipartisan way to lift up American families and workers to protect their health, economic security and well-being today and throughout this crisis,” Pelosi said Friday.
But those ideas have run into a buzzsaw in the form of McConnell and other Senate Republicans, who have made the rounds over the past week advocating for Congress to take a wait-and-see approach after President Trump signed into law a $2.2 trillion rescue package late last month.
“We’re not going to be doing, in the name of an emergency, items unrelated to the emergency,” McConnell told Fox News Radio when asked about talk of a “phase four” bill.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) backed up McConnell, telling reporters that while Pelosi “is trying to talk about a fourth bill, I don’t think that is appropriate at this time.”
Some rank-and-file GOP senators say they are already informally discussing a fourth bill as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is expected to skyrocket in the coming weeks. As of Friday evening, there were about 274,000 cases in the United States and more than 7,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
But even as senators say they are having behind-the-scenes talks, Pelosi and McConnell have spent days trading barbs through the media.
McConnell, in one of several interviews, told Pelosi to “stand down” and argued that she was trying to “jam” Senate Republicans.
Pelosi later pointed to the GOP leader’s rhetoric, as well as a separate war of words between Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), calling it “chicken feed.”
“You can’t pay attention to that stuff,” Pelosi told reporters. “They’re playing to their base.”
The administration has been careful to not get too involved in the public tug-of-war between the two congressional leaders.
Asked about the break between the two when it comes to additional legislation, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters he was in touch with both of them.
“I’ve spoken to the leader, I’ve spoken to the Speaker. I’ve spoken to the president constantly. When the president is ready and thinks we should do the next stage, we’re ready,” he said.
Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, echoed McConnell by saying existing coronavirus measures should be given a chance to make an impact.
“I don’t want to disagree with the Speaker. And I’m just saying, let this thing play out,” he told reporters at the White House on Friday.