With the ink still drying on a $2 trillion coronavirus-related economic relief package that could pass the House as soon as Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hinted in a Thursday news conference at some of the proposals Democrats could push in the upcoming “phase four” relief bill.
Progressive lawmakers were unable to achieve “everything” they might have wanted in a revised version of this week’s historic “phase three” aid package, Pelosi said, despite substantial bipartisan inroads made on the legislation in light of Democratic blockage of the original bill earlier this week.
“I’m so proud of the work of all of our chairmen,” Pelosi said.
“They were just dazzling in their knowledge, their strategy, just their experience in getting the right kind of bill passed even though again, compromising, not getting everything we want, but recognizing that we won the day.”
“I thank the Senate Democrats for using the leverage they have with the 60 votes,” she said. “I take pride in what we had in our House bill that is in the Senate bill now.”
Among those progressive provisions eventually worked into the bipartisan Senate bill were astronomical increases in federal unemployment insurance and a $100 million arts stimulus split between the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, according to CNN.
Still, the House speaker said, there was more to be done in the way of expanded social safety net provisions in light of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout — something House Democrats are apparently already seeking to rectify in discussions surrounding their next legislative effort.
“The bill last night and tomorrow will be a large infusion of funds for hospitals, health systems and state and local governments,” Pelosi said.
“We want more, and this was a big, strong step, but we need more.”
“We will go out to the floor for this legislation,” she later assured, “but as I have said, there’s so many things that we didn’t get in any of these bills yet in a way that we need to.”
Pelosi suggested a great deal more money could be directed toward nationwide nutritional assistance programs and state governmental pandemic response in upcoming House Democratic legislation.
Details were sparse in the Thursday news conference.
However, a roughly 15 percent increase in food stamps funding under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was mentioned, as was a more than $50 billion boost in funding for state and local governments’ pandemic responses.
“We were asking for a 15 percent increase in food stamps at this very fragile time for many families. They wouldn’t do that in this bill,” she said.
Pelosi also said she wanted “more money for state and local governments.”
“We had $200 billion in our bill that we ended up with $150, but neither of those figures is really enough,” Pelosi added.
Tighter federal work safety and health regulations for essential businesses and definitional clarity regarding “who qualifies for family and medical leave” were additional proposals floated by the speaker on Thursday.
Despite her reservations, however, Pelosi told Bloomberg TV she had “no doubts” the phase three relief package will be fast-tracked for House passage this week.
According to CNN, the current legislation includes an $850 billion fund for small business and distressed company loans, $250 billion for unemployment benefits and another $250 billion in direct cash payments to American individuals and families.
President Donald Trump has already guaranteed support for the bill and is expected to sign it upon delivery to the White House this weekend.
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