Pelosi says House will draft its own coronavirus funding bill

Bonnie Cash

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that House Democrats would draft their own coronavirus stimulus bill after all sides failed to reach a deal on a massive proposal being negotiated in the Senate.

“We’ll be introducing our own bill, and hopefully it will be compatible with what they discuss on the Senate side,” Pelosi said as she left a short meeting in the Capitol with the leaders of both parties negotiating the stimulus package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has scheduled a procedural vote for 3 p.m. on Sunday to jump-start the process and has vowed a second vote on the massive proposal Monday.

Yet Pelosi signaled the sides remain far apart, indicating that McConnell’s timeline might be overly ambitious, at least as it pertains to winning bipartisan support.

“I don’t know about Monday, but we’re still talking,” she said. “That’s on the Senate side now because that’s their deadline for a vote.”

Her comments came just after Pelosi left a meeting with the lead negotiators scrambling to piece together Congress’s third relief package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has tanked markets, led to mass layoffs and encroached on virtually every facet of American life.

The meeting in McConnell’s office also featured Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. It marked the first time that Pelosi had met face-to-face with McConnell and the other Republicans, who negotiated with Schumer and Senate Democrats while the House was in recess last week.

Pelosi and Schumer, however, have been working hand in glove throughout the process. And Pelosi has vowed all along that House Democrats would craft their own alternative to the Republicans’ initial $1 trillion proposal, if only to promote their own stimulus vision as the talks evolved.

Both McConnell and Schumer left the Capitol on Saturday night expressing optimism that a quick deal was in reach. But that confidence seems to have faded since then, as Democrats press for a host of provisions Republicans have resisted, including expansions of paid leave, unemployment benefits, and a huge stabilization fund to help state and local governments weather the crisis.

There was a sense that a House bill would be unnecessary if Pelosi and Schumer could reach a deal with McConnell and the White House, setting the stage for quick passage in both chambers. The House was even eying the possibility of voting by unanimous consent, a procedural maneuver allowing the bill to pass without calling House lawmakers back to Washington.

Pelosi’s comments Sunday, however, suggested the process will be longer drawn, perhaps requiring each side to pass its own bill and iron out the differences afterward.

They also reflect a simmering resentment among House Democrats who feel that they have been cut out of the process.

Pelosi had conducted a conference call with House Democrats on Thursday, during which lawmakers laid out a long wish list of provisions to include in the package, including expansions in funding for Medicaid, unemployment insurance, a state stabilization fund and Social Security.

In short, the Democrats have accused Republicans of crafting a package that leans too heavily toward bailing out corporations without providing enough assistance for small businesses, workers and working-class families suffering the fallout of the deadly virus.

“Trickle-down economics really stands for the proposition that you may get a trickle, but the overwhelming majority of the American people are guaranteed to stay down,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said heading into the weekend.

This report was updated at 1:02 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Coronavirus Hakeem Jeffries Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin

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