Democrats Prepare $2.4 Trillion Rescue Package
House Democrats are giving another try at a huge COVID-19 relief bill in an attempt to get negotiations going again with the Trump administration.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives may also decide to pass their $2.4 trillion measure next week if talks fall through so they can demonstrate that the party isn't giving up on passing a virus relief before the election.
Back in May, the chamber passed a $3.4 trillion rescue measure, but Republicans panned the measure as overblown and unrealistic. Even after Democrats cut back their package by $1 trillion, Senate Republicans still focused on a much smaller one in the $650 billion to $1 trillion range.
Many pundits believe that in the midst of a heated presidential campaign and the battle over filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court, bridging the divide could be impossible.
At any rate, the new $2.4 trillion Democrat bill is likely to contain additional relief for the airline and restaurant industries, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.
The relief would also give more aid to state and local governments, $1,2000 direct payments to most Americans, more than $100 billion in aid to schools seeking to safely reopen, and funding for renewed pandemic jobless benefits and production of a COVID vaccine.
“We’re trying to figure out how to move a negotiation forward because we believe the American people need some help. And so we’re going to try,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “Our chairs are looking at everything again and the hope is that we can come up with something.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is commissioning this latest effort.
"We are striving for an agreement," Pelosi told her colleagues. "If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor."
Recent talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have basically gone nowhere, but neither side is willing to officially give up.
But again, it seems like the prospect of the two sides coming to an agreement is a real longshot.
"It's a waste of time," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. "She could pass 10 more partisan bills. That won't get us an inch closer."