Nancy Pelosi says that Congress “will have an agreement” on a new pandemic stimulus deal before it takes its Christmas break next week. The House Speaker spoke to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for the first time since the election on Thursday.
According to reports, the congressional leaders spoke on the phone “about their shared commitment to completing an omnibus spending bill and COVID-19 relief as soon as possible,” said Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill on Twitter.
Politicians are set to leave Washington DC for the holiday recess on December 11th. Pelosi had talks with treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin before the November election but no deal could be reached.
Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have lined up behind a $908 billion bipartisan spending package as the starting point for talks. Note to those waiting, there are no stimulus payments to Americans in this package.
GOP leader Mr McConnell, who says he is “hopeful” of a deal has backed a more slimline $500bn package.
An estimated 12 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits after Christmas if a new deal is not agreed upon. A surge in virus cases across the US have resulted in a spike in hospitalizations and new economic restrictions on businesses.
The framework of the bipartisan relief bill released includes:
- $288 billion in small business aid such as Paycheck Protection Program loans
- $160 billion in state and local government relief
- $180 billion to fund a $300 per week supplemental unemployment benefit through March
- $16 billion into vaccine distribution, testing, and contact tracing
- $82 billion for education
- $45 billion for transportation.
- Allocate funds for rental assistance, child care, and broadband internet
“We recognize that families all across America are struggling, that businesses are closing, that hospitals are overwhelmed,” Sean. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said from the Senate floor. “It is absolutely essential that we pass emergency relief.”
In October the White House offered up a $1.8 trillion package with $300 billion dollars going to key fiscal relief for state and local governments.
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the offer, calling it “one step forward, two steps back,” but somehow agrees that the much smaller package, with no money to the American people, is a much better idea.
President Trump criticized Mnuchin for not pushing for a deal even larger than $1.8 trillion, telling Fox Business that he had informed the Treasury Secretary of his desire for a bigger bill but so far, Mnuchin “hasn’t come home with the bacon.”
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