Congress ‘close’ to reaching new coronavirus relief bill, Pelosi says

Glimmers of hope for new relief as pandemic continues to ravage the nation

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 10 December 2020 15:26
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Pelosi defends smaller Covid-19 relief proposal
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Lawmakers negotiating a comprehensive coronavirus relief package may soon have a bill ready for a vote in Congress, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose comments came as Americans eagerly awaited additional aid amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the California Democrat said: “I think that we're close.”

“That’s what they tell me,” she added, “those who are negotiating.”

The glimmer of optimism followed weeks of stalled negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, after the House passed the sweeping HEROES Act earlier this year, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to put up for a vote.

Millions of businesses have meanwhile been forced to close their doors as the pandemic raged on the in the US, responsible for more than 280,000 deaths nationwide since the outbreak began earlier this year. Unemployment benefits and additional aid measures could stand to expire in the weeks and months ahead, as previous coronavirus relief runs out of state and federal funding.

But a group of bipartisan lawmakers have begun circulating a relief proposal amounting to more than $900 billion which appeared to have support from both sides of the political aisle, though Democrats have additionally called for the inclusion of direct cash payments of $1,200 for the majority of Americans.

Those payments were a key component of the congressional relief package Congress passed in late March, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and have since become a point of contention between the parties.

Nancy Pelosi backs sending $1,200 payments to most Americans in next Covid relief bill

‘That’s really more up to the president, if he would be agreeable to do that … we’re all for it’

Whereas several Republicans have expressed support for the inclusion of direct payments in any coronavirus relief measures Congress passes, others have said the bill would become too expensive — some analysts projected the $1,200 payments could add nearly $300 billion to the next Covid-19 package.

Ms Pelosi previously expressed support for adding payments in the next relief bill, telling reporters earlier this week “we’re all for it” and suggesting the matter would really come down to whether President Donald Trump would back it as well.

“That’s really more up to the president, if he would be agreeable to do that,” she said. “But we’re all for it.”

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