Pelosi says plan for Round 2 of coronavirus relief could arrive as early as this week

Pelosi says plan for Round 2 of coronavirus relief could arrive as early as this week
© Greg Nash

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill said Monday that they could unveil their proposal for a second round of economic relief surrounding the coronavirus outbreak as early as this week.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Democrats' out-party advantage in 2020 Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE (D-N.Y.) are floating a series of legislative reforms designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus and provide economic relief to those most directly affected.

The package comes as an alternative to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE's favored economic proposal, which features an across-the-board payroll tax cut for America's workers. While the Democrats' legislation is not yet drafted, Pelosi and Schumer huddled Monday night with the various committee leaders working on it in an effort to tie up loose ends. And Pelosi said the legislation could be drafted — and maybe even receive a vote on the House floor — by the end of the week.

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"We are putting it together; it's not like we just woke up this morning and started thinking about this," Pelosi said.

"I don't know that we can be ready this week but we can introduce this week. We can introduce [it] and we may be ready [to vote on it], depending on CBO, depending on [legislative] counsel and how quickly they can [estimate the cost]," she said, referring to the Congressional Budget Office

Pelosi declined to offer a cost estimate of her own.

The Speaker had outlined the broad contours of the Democrats' proposal in a letter to her troops Monday evening. The package features free testing for those showing coronavirus symptoms; expanded unemployment insurance for those laid off by the economic effects of the virus; paid sick leave for quarantined workers or parents of kids whose schools are shuttered as a result of the epidemic; and an expansion of food stamps to ensure that kids don't go hungry due to school closures.

Pelosi noted that some of those ideas were plucked from the economic stimulus passed by Democrats under former President Obama in 2009, in the midst of the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. Now, as then, those provisions were selected because economists maintain they provide more aggressive stimulus — or bang-for-the-buck — than alternative proposals, by putting money directly into the pockets of working-class people who are more likely to spend it quickly.

"They're all more worried about Dow Jones than the Jones family," Pelosi said. "We are about the families."

Pelosi and Schumer on Monday dismissed Trump's payroll-tax plan, saying it misses the mark by focusing on the economy generally, not the coronavirus specifically. The Democrats' reforms, by contrast, are micro-targeted to assist those affected most directly by the coronavirus.

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"The president seemed to be focused more on the stock market than the pandemic. But unless you deal with the pandemic, the stock market's going to keep getting worse, and worse and worse," Schumer said. "Deal with the pandemic first and foremost."

The second round of coronavirus relief follows closely on the heels of the first, enacted last week, which provided $8.3 billion to stem the spread of the virus. The Democrats say that was hardly enough.

"It is clear that further legislative action will quickly become necessary as the epidemic spreads and the impacts on workers and families in our communities deepen," Pelosi wrote in her "Dear Colleague" letter.