An ambulance sits outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, March 23, 2020, as the Senate continues negotiations on a relief package in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
House Democrats released their latest bill Tuesday designed to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effects on the economy and health-care system.
Party leaders expect to vote on the more than 1,800-page package on Friday, along with a plan to allow proxy voting on legislation during the crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to discuss the emergency response package Tuesday afternoon.
Democrats say rising Covid-19 infection rates and an unemployment rate unseen since the Great Depression require adding to an already unprecedented emergency government response. The new bill is set cost about $3 trillion, which is more than the $2 trillion cost of the late March stimulus package..
If it passes the House, the Democratic-written plan will likely face roadblocks in the Senate. It is unclear when both Democrats and Republicans would sign off on a proposal for more relief, as the GOP downplays the need to spend more federal money on a rescue bill now.
“I’m in constant communication with the White House. If we decide to go forward, we will go forward together,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Monday.
The Kentucky Republican added that he does not believe “we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately.” He said “that time could develop, but I don’t think it has yet.”
McConnell has taken issue with Pelosi’s priority of putting well more than $500 billion toward relief for state and local governments, which could soon have to scale back payrolls and programs as they spend more money and take in less revenue during the pandemic. Democrats, on the other hand, have opposed the GOP goal of passing liability protections for businesses as they restart in the shadow of the outbreak.
The U.S. now has more than 1.3 million Covid-19 cases, and the disease has led to more than 80,000 American deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.