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Democrats Try Again, Offer New Coronavirus Relief Package, Stripping $1.2 Trillion from It

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Democrats Try Again, Offer New Coronavirus Relief Package, Stripping $1.2 Trillion from It

2020-09-29 17:26:08

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Nancy Pelosi (Image source: Screenshot)

Time is ticking away with only a few days left until lawmakers stop showing up for work every day because they'll be out campaigning to save their jobs. Yet, there is still a push to pass a coronavirus relief bill. The problem is that with so little time, there still hasn't been an agreement between the Senate GOP, the House Democrats, and the White House.

However, a last-ditch effort was made on Monday with the unveiling of a stripped-down $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, with an attempt to lure the White House and Senate GOP back to possibly make a deal before the month is up.

The new HEROES Acts splits the difference between the large price tag of the original HEROES Act passed in May and the numbers that the Senate had been willing to agree to.

With $1.2 trillion less than the original bill, the new HEROES Act includes $436 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments, a particular sticking point that Democrats are insisting on and the White House and Senate not supporting. Also included is $225 billion for schools and childcare; the promised next round of $1,200 stimulus checks; $600 unemployment payments restored and expanded through January; $75 billion for testing, contract testing, and other health care; housing assistance; and funding for the U.S. Census, U.S. Postal Service, and elections.

Also thrown in is $25 billion to hold off thousands of layoffs at passenger airlines, along with $3 billion for airline contractors. The restaurant industry would receive $120 billion. Trump and his allies have wanted this, but the Democrats were resisting it.

This plan was announced just before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ti was agreed that they would speak again on Tuesday.

The lawmakers up for reelection have been pushing Pelosi to hold another vote on a coronavirus relief package. She was sticking to her guns initially, noting that they'd already passed the $3.4 billion package in the spring.

Pelosi sent a letter to House members on Monday night but didn't mention whether there will be a vote for the new package before the lawmakers take off to focus on campaigning.

"This evening Democrats are unveiling an updated Heroes Act that serves as our proffer to Republicans to come to negotiations to address the health and economic catastrophe in our country," wrote the speaker in her letter.

Instead of reducing the help the relief package would provide, Democrats shortened the length of time the additional coverage would be offered.

"Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America's working families right now," wrote Pelosi. "We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.

Before unveiling the revised package, Pelosi made an appearance on MSNBC. She admitted to speaking with Mnuchin over the weekend and said the White House would halve to compromise, just as she is. 

"I think we can find our common ground ... but he has to come back with much more money to get the job done," the speaker told Andrea Mitchell. "So, I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic."

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