House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), announced last week that House Democrats are preparing a second COVID aid package, and one with a price tag that is a trillion dollars less that their original proposal. The originally proposed HEROES ACT had a price tag of $3.5 trillion and included items not essential to COVID relief.
Pelosi instructed her committee chairs to craft a drastically scaled back relief package to serve as a basis for renewed talks with the White House. This comes after a defiant statement just last month when she said House Democrats “weren’t budging” and that the White House and congressional Republicans were “just going to have to come up with more money.”
In a complete turnabout from August, Pelosi told her leadership, “We are still striving for an agreement…If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor.”
The original HEROES Act contained a wide-ranging list of demands including:
- $1 trillion to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments
- $200 billion in hazard pay for “essential workers”
- $75 billion additional dollars for coronavirus testing
- A second round of $1,200 stipend checks to individuals, up to $6,000 per household
- Requires a seven-day implementation of an OSHA-approved infection control plan for all employers
- $10 billion in additional Payroll Protection Plan funding
- COBRA subsidies for individuals losing their employer-provided health insurance
- Extends the weekly $600 unemployment payments (which breaks down to a $15 an hour minimum wage) until January 2021
- $175 billion in new renter/mortgage assistance
- A 15% increase in the maximum SNAP benefit
- Additional expenditures including funding for mail-in voting, census execution, and US Postal Service funding
The new bill is said to incorporate a pared-down list of demands, including enhanced unemployment insurance, a direct stimulus payment to Americans, a second reiteration of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, and aid to airlines.
“I think there are areas of support. Let’s pass things that we agree on quickly and we can always come back,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee last Thursday.
Additionally, it was announced last week that Pelosi and Mnuchin have agreed upon a short-term continuing resolution spending package to keep the federal government open until December 11.