Pelosi eyes next relief package as Republicans downplay need

“The bill that was passed in the Senate last night and that we will pick up tomorrow is about damage limitation,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “There are so many things we didn’t get in any of these bills that we needed.”

Measures that Democrats are pushing for include additional funds for state and local governments to combat the rapidly spreading virus. Expanding the pool of people qualifying for family and sick leave; more federal dollar for food aid; Greater protection of workers for first aiders; Funding to offset the cost of treating coronavirus; and stabilization of pensions.

Pelosi also said she did not think “we saw the end of direct payments” and even suggested Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin on Thursday to electronically deliver the first round.

But the House’s top Republican has downplayed the need for additional relief efforts at this point, and has poured cold water on Pelosi’s quest for a fourth coronavirus package, at least for the time being.

“We have just passed the third bill. Let’s make it work. Let’s make that work in America, ”said Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House minority leader, in the Fox News Thursday morning. “We have now provided the resources to solve this problem. We don’t have to issue another invoice now. Let’s let this $ 2 trillion work for us, plus the $ 8 billion upfront and the billion dollars we just passed on to the second bill. “

Pelosi initially said she would take the lead in drafting the fourth tranche of legislation before telling reporters that it was indeed a “four-corner” negotiation, meaning that she, McCarthy, the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Senate The minority leader, Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), makes a deal.

Schumer also signaled this week that additional help is needed and said: “We should be ready and able to go bipartisan and do more when we need it, and I think we probably need to do it either way . “

The schedule is still unclear when the fourth bill will be complete or when the legislature will return to the Capitol. The Senate is at least until April 20 – unless an emergency brings the senators back to Washington – and Parliament also plans to take a few weeks off after Friday’s vote.

Part of Pelosi and McCarthy’s stance is membership management. For Pelosi, she wants to reassure her caucus that there will be more chances to include democratic priorities that didn’t make it into the first three bills. And for McCarthy, he has to calm nervous, conservative hardliners who are wary of high government spending and may object to the Senate package being passed by vote.

McConnell, meanwhile, was non-committal to the next legislative move, and instead focused his energy on getting the $ 2 trillion economic bailout first across the finish line.

“The real problem here is that it is on the health side, and we all hope that we will start to bend the curve here in the next few weeks, so I have no announcement for the future,” McConnell said in Wednesday an interview with POLITICO, “We hope and pray that we will begin to deal with this pandemic.”

The massive aid package, which is expected to clear the house on Friday, is the third in a wave of bills that Congress quickly mobilized to adopt as the US coronavirus spreads, infects thousands, and closes massive economic sectors.

Congress passed a $ 8.3 billion emergency funding bill in early March, and the Senate then approved the House’s Phase 2 bill last week, which significantly expanded federal security programs to combat the virus.

Democrats and some Republicans have said that a fourth law – and maybe more – is needed to ensure that the United States doesn’t get into full-blown depression. Only on Thursday did unemployment claims reach a record high and rose to 3.3 million according to the Ministry of Labor.

“In this case it’s about public opinion. People say,” Oh, why do we still need a bill? “Said Pelosi.” These are needs that people have. … it’s all about the corona virus. It’s not about anything else. “

Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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