House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to her Democratic colleagues Friday, October 2, outlining five different priorities that she said were “needed to crush the coronavirus and protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy” in a coronavirus relief bill.
Pelosi and the Democrats recently passed an updated $2.2 trillion version of the HEROES Act. The bill was significantly lower than the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act Democrats passed in May and still more than the $1.3 trillion HEALS Act Republicans passed in May. Republicans most recently moved their estimate up by $600 billion in a new $1.6 trillion offer proposed by Republicans.
The five items deemed priorities were described as points of disagreement between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the principal negotiators on a new pandemic relief bill. However, Pelosi and Republican leaders have expressed optimism that a deal could get done.
The ‘Updated’ HEROES Act Passed the House
Democrats approved a $2.2 trillion Democratic bill with a vote of 214-207, even as Republicans continued to say the cost was too high, Reuters reported.
Here is what the updated bill contains according to a press release:
- $225 billion for education
- $436 billion for state local, territorial and tribal governments
- $75 billion for testing, tracing and treatment
- Funding for the restoration of $600 federal unemployment supplements
- Funds for another round of $1,200 payments to individuals and $500 for each dependent
Following Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, Pelosi said that she believes it might breathe new life into negotiations on a coronavirus relief package. “This kind of changes the dynamic because here they see the reality of what we have been saying all along: This is a vicious virus, and it spreads,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he believes negotiations are coming closer to a compromise, The Washington Post reported. “I’m trying to figure out here whether I should predict another bill quickly or not, but the talks have speeded up in the last couple days,” he said during a press conference. “I think we’re closer to getting an outcome.”
Pelosi Wrote a Letter Outlining Five Major Priorities
The priorities listed in Pelosi’s letter include unemployment insurance, schools and state/local funding, tax credits, coronavirus testing and contract tracing and appropriations. According to Pelosi, “These are five notable areas of concern. There are other areas of disagreement that are part of the discussion, which we continue to work on as well.”
On unemployment insurance, Pelosi said that the number in the Republicans’ bill was too low to provide sufficient relief. On schools, Pelosi noted that more than a quarter of a million teachers and school staff had lost jobs in September due to the pandemic.
Pelosi wrote about state and local funding, “We have no right to salute our heroic frontline health care workers, police, fire, sanitation, transit and teachers if we do not give them the state and local funding needed to prevent them from losing their jobs.”
Pelosi also wrote about increasing funding for the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit as well as the $57 billion allocated for childcare compared to the $25 billion allocated to the Republicans. Pelosi said that Republicans were closer to the desired amount for testing and contact tracing but that they had “not yet reached agreement on the language.”
Finally, she noted that they were still negotiating over appropriations, which was reduced to $144 billion in the Democrats bill and the White House asked to be reduced by $188 billion.