Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Photos of the Week: Climate protests, Blue Origin and a koala MORE (D-Calif.) is telling fellow Democrats that the next phase of emergency coronavirus relief will top $1 trillion.
In a conference call Monday with more than 180 House Democrats, Pelosi said the last relief package — a historic, $2.2 trillion infusion adopted less than two weeks ago — is insufficient to help the medical workers, businesses and employees affected by the fast-spreading pandemic.
She and a number of committee heads are busy drafting another round of emergency funding designed both to supplement the assistance already provided and expand it to include more affected populations, particularly rural, low-income and other vulnerable people left struggling to make ends meet as the coronavirus spreads around the country.
Democrats are working to provide more money for medical equipment and personal safety supplies for front-line workers, expand unemployment benefits from four to six months, provide another round of cash payments to individuals and extend food stamps, particularly for children who might miss meals as a result of mass school closures.
They also want to boost the fund providing low-cost loans to small businesses to cover payroll, rent and other expenses as they fight to weather the crisis. The $2.2 trillion package — the third emergency relief bill passed by Congress in the last month — allocated $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which extends those loans. But banks have grumbled about the lack of administrative guidance as they implement the program, and the sheer volume of applicants, Democrats warn, is threatening to exhaust the fund before many eligible businesses are able to tap into it.
"We've done a great deal, and we just have to get that out," Pelosi told MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowRachel Maddow reveals she underwent surgery for skin cancer Rachel Maddow extends contract with MSNBC: reports OAN loses appeal in defamation lawsuit against Rachel Maddow MORE Monday night. "But as it goes out, we know already that the acceleration of the pace of this virus, and this assault — not only on the lives but the livelihood of the American people — that we must do more. So we're preparing for CARES 2 already."
Fueling the urgency, Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenBiden's IRS proposal could mark the end of privacy in banking Climate crisis: The house is on fire, will banking regulators break the glass? Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push MORE, the former head of the Federal Reserve, told Democrats on Monday's call that she expects the number of unemployment applications — which soared to 10 million over just two weeks in March — will jump even higher when the Labor Department releases its latest figures this week.
It's unclear when Democrats intend to release the package, or stage a vote on it. Both the House and Senate are on recess until at least April 20. But as conditions worsen on the ground — both medically and economically — there's a growing pressure on lawmakers to move a fourth package quickly. Pelosi has said she'd like to get it through the House before month's end.
It's equally unclear how the next round of help would be received in the Republican-controlled Senate. GOP leaders in both chambers have been resistant to the idea of moving another bill before the funding is distributed from the $2.2 trillion package, allowing them to gauge its effectiveness. They've also hammered Democrats for proposing a host of provisions the Republicans deem extraneous to the current crisis, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights MORE (R-Ky.) has warned that he won't allow Pelosi to "jam" the Senate with partisan legislation passed by the House.
Still, McConnell over the weekend acknowledged that a fourth package is inevitable.
“There will be a next measure,” he told The Associated Press over the weekend.
Pelosi and the Democrats, meanwhile, are pressing President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE to appoint a single figure in the administration to assess the country's medical needs and supply chain, and manage the distribution of equipment and funding from the White House.
"You have to have somebody in charge, to manage it," she told Maddow late Monday. "It just doesn't happen to be that it goes politically where somebody might want it to go. It goes where it is needed."