Democrats ready Covid relief package ahead of last-ditch negotiations

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Democrats ready Covid relief package ahead of last-ditch negotiations

The California Democrat also wanted to reassure members that if talks collapse, the party will be “closer” to the inauguration of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, which could provide sweeping relief early next year.

“We’ll have our moment,” said Pelosi on the call, according to several people who dialed in.

Democrats stand ready to act quickly on Wednesday to vote on their own bill. This is primarily a messaging tool to convince voters in the remaining weeks leading up to the election that the GOP is responsible for not continuing federal aid, such as unemployment benefits drying up in August.

Mnuchin, who led the negotiations for the Senate Republicans, is expected to deliver the GOP’s latest counteroffer to Pelosi sometime Wednesday afternoon. The price for this proposal, he said, would be about $ 1.5 trillion – which still leaves the GOP several hundred billion dollars away from the Democratic proposal.

“We’re going to do one more serious try to make this happen and I think we hope we can get something done,” Mnuchin said on CNBC. “I think there is a sensible compromise here. The president is keen to do that and make sure we help those parts of the economy that still need help.”

Mnuchin’s $ 1.5 trillion offer is more in line with a bipartisan proposal by the Problem Solvers Caucus earlier this month. This proposal was quickly dismissed by Pelosi’s allies as not going far enough, but presented as a blueprint for negotiations. It’s unclear if the speaker would be ready now to accept a deal closer to $ 1.5 trillion than her proposed $ 2.2 trillion relief.

The scaled-down House offering would provide $ 436 billion in aid to state and local governments, while the Problem Solvers proposal suggested approximately $ 500 billion in new funding to address these shortfalls.

Without an agreement this week, many lawmakers – especially those in close races – will leave Washington frustrated and emptied, with virtually no hope of providing further aid until after the elections. Congress passed four bipartisan bills totaling around $ 3 trillion, but no action has been taken all summer, even as cases continue to increase in several states.

“The American people cannot afford to wait for action until next year,” said Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Head of House Appropriations, on Wednesday. “So the Democrats are doing well with our compromise offer.”

Outside Washington, there are tens of thousands of layoffs piling up in industries hit by the pandemic, from airlines to theme parks to oil refineries. And workers who were already unemployed spent nearly two months without the additional $ 600 a week of federal unemployment benefits that expired in August.

Mnuchin said Wednesday he wasn’t expecting a standalone bill to fix massive airline layoffs expected in the coming days.

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