The Democratic Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has pushed for months to pass a $3.4 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which has been opposed by Republicans seeking legislation with a substantially lower price tag.
As reported by Axios, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now pushing a new bill that tips the scales at a slimmer $2.2. trillion.
A break in the logjam
House Republicans have shown resistance to the HEROES Act since it was first introduced in May, though negotiations have largely stalled since then as both sides remained committed to passing some form of follow-up relief in the wake of a bill that passed earlier in the year.
While Pelosi since agreed to trim $1 trillion off of her party’s proposal if the GOP would meet her halfway, the minority party held firm in defiance.
Now, she has signaled a willingness to shave another $200 billion in hopes of reaching an agreement with Republicans, though the likelihood of such a deal remains low — at least in the short term.
One probable point of contention involves the extension of a $600 per week additional unemployment benefit, which expired after it was introduced on a temporary basis in the earlier bill.
Other aspects, however, might provide a fruitful foundation on which both sides of the aisle can reach an agreement. Among them is an update to the Paycheck Protection Program, which has provided favorable loans to small businesses struggling to stay afloat amid ongoing coronavirus shutdowns.
“Opportunity to enforce their socialism”
Pelosi’s latest proposal also includes funding for rapid coronavirus testing, a move the president recently emphasized as a priority of his administration.
“Today, I’m pleased to report that we’re announcing our plan to distribute 150 million Abbott rapid point-of-care tests in the coming weeks — very, very soon,” he said in an address on Monday. “This will be more than double the number of tests already performed.”
The president said that 50 million of those tests would be given to those in communities deemed especially vulnerable to the virus.
It is unclear precisely what number Republican leaders would like to see on proposed legislation, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dismissed the original plan as the Democratic Party’s latest “opportunity to enforce their socialism.”
The most recent update from Pelosi hopefully indicates that her party is finally giving up on a plan to add trillions more to the nation’s debt under the guise of pandemic relief.