After months of political posturing, Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress appear to have caved in their pursuit of COVID-19 relief proposals that Republicans dismissed as wasteful.
Recent reports show that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have announced their support for a trimmed-down $908 billion relief package backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
“Meeting the needs of the American people”
The party leaders put out a joint statement on the matter this week.
“While we made a new offer to [Senate Majority] Leader McConnell [R-KY] and [House Minority] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy [R-CA] on Monday, in the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations,” they stated on Wednesday.
Pelosi and Schumer continued by noting that they “will offer improvements” going forward while insisting that “the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement.”
Citing “the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people” along with “the hope that the vaccine presents,” they ultimately determined that it was time “to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country.”
As for the nearly $1 trillion proposal, its backers from both parties introduced it this week in both chambers.\
“To determine something would happen”
Among its inclusions are $288 billion in small business aid, $160 billion in state and local government relief, $180 billion for extended unemployment benefits, $82 billion for education, $45 billion for transportation, and $16 billion for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution.
The bill does not, however, include funding for another round of stimulus checks, opening it up to criticism among some who have been pushing for such direct relief.
Signs of bipartisan progress is promising, though, after Pelosi and other Democrats have urged for as much as $3 trillion in spending while the GOP has argued that as little as $500 billion would get the job done.
Pelosi’s refusal to budge on her position led to widespread criticism, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who claimed her only motive was hurting Republicans in the recent elections.
“The speaker of this House has denied the ability to [get] help to the American public, simply because she wanted to determine something would happen in the election, to harm President Trump and him getting re-elected,” said. “But what has happened is American people are hurting. That has got to stop.”