House Democrats Introduce Scaled-Back Coronavirus Aid Package : NPR

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduced a revised $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package after weeks of stalled talks.

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Jose Luis Magana/AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduced a revised $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package after weeks of stalled talks.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

House Democrats have released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response package as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempt to revive long-stalled aid negotiations.

The legislation addresses many of Democrats’ top priorities, like additional money for testing and drug development, additional unemployment benefits and small business loans, that were included in the $3.4 trillion bill that passed the House in May. Some of the reduced cost comes from scaling back the duration of the benefits in order to come closer to compromise with Republicans.

Pelosi called the package an effort to follow through on the promise to work with Republicans who are seeking a narrower response.

“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,” Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats. “We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.”

The legislation would revive the expired $600 additional weekly federal unemployment benefit through January and lift caps on how long people can file for unemployment.

Democrats also included another round of direct payments of $1,200 per person and $500 per dependent, money to refresh the popular Paycheck Protection Program with new money for small business loans, additional money for food security programs and $436 billion in relief for states, local governments, tribes and territories.

Republicans balked at the $3.4 trillion package that passed the House in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has proposed his own $300 billion bill, but that legislation failed in the Senate earlier this month.

This latest House bill would cost significantly less than the earlier bill from Democrats but it still includes several items that Republicans have already rejected. One controversial provision would temporarily lift a cap on state and local tax deductions that was part of the 2017 GOP tax overhaul. Republicans also reject the idea that state governments need more money from the federal government.

Pelosi is expected to resume talks with Mnuchin this week in hopes of reaching an agreement ahead of the election in November.

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House Democrats consider scaled-back stimulus proposal in effort to jumpstart stalled talks

House Democrats are preparing a new coronavirus relief package in an effort to shake free negotiations that have been in a stalemate for nearly two months.



Nancy Pelosi looking at the camera: WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 31: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are expected to speak by phone with White House officials throughout the weekend as they continue to negotiations about extending unemployment benefits amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 31: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are expected to speak by phone with White House officials throughout the weekend as they continue to negotiations about extending unemployment benefits amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has instructed her committee chairs to put together a proposal that would serve as a scaled back version of earlier Democratic offers — though one that would largely align with the topline number Pelosi has held for several weeks. That topline, of $2.2 trillion, is more than $1 trillion lower than the stimulus proposal House Democrats passed in May. The Trump administration has said it would be willing to consider a proposal somewhere around $1.5 trillion — meaning even the scaled-back Democratic proposal will exceed the high-end of where Republicans have been willing to go up to this point.

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The split on the topline underscores the central issue that has left negotiations moribund since early August, according to members and aides in both parties: the significant difference in views on the scope and scale of the problems that need to be addressed in a second major stimulus package. The first, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, was passed in both chambers nearly unanimously back in the spring. But since then, Republicans have urged a more targeted approach and objected to Democratic proposals to direct $915 billion to states and localities struggling with budget shortfalls due in large part to their pandemic response.

But frontline House Democrats have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks about the need to do something before the chamber breaks for the campaign season, which it is scheduled to do next week. And some freshman Democrats, who have backed a bipartisan proposal worth between $1.5 trillion-$2 trillion by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, are demanding their leadership put on the floor a bill that can become law — not a partisan bill intended to send a message.

“If it’s a messaging exercise, it’s worthless,” Rep. Dean Phillips, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, told CNN. He said a bill worth $2.4 trillion would mean Republicans would likely line up to oppose it, and House Democrats would look “very similar” to Senate Republicans who pushed a partisan bill that failed in their chamber earlier this month and was meant in part to give cover to their party.

“Many of us are getting sick of that,” Phillips said.

Pelosi, along with her Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, has stressed publicly and privately for weeks the need for Democrats to remain united if and when any negotiations recommence. She made clear, in a letter

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