Democratic leaders want next coronavirus relief bill wrapped up by July 31

Democratic leaders want next coronavirus relief bill wrapped up by July 31
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders are pushing hard to finalize an agreement on the next multitrillion-dollar package of coronavirus relief to wrap up the process before Aug. 1.

"I’m hoping for the end of the month,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Pelosi: 'Of course there's room for compromise' on 0-per-week unemployment benefit MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters Tuesday morning in the Capitol.

They have plenty of work to do to meet that deadline.

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In May, House Democrats had passed a $3.4 trillion package, the HEROES Act, that largely extended or replenished emergency aid provided by Congress in the two months previous. It includes hundreds of billions of dollars for unemployment insurance, direct payments to individuals, medical supplies, coronavirus testing and funds to prop up embattled state and local governments.

Senate Republicans have rejected both the size of the Democrats' proposal, and a number of the policy prescriptions contained within it.

But with some of the emergency funding set to expire within days, including the unemployment insurance benefits, Democrats maintain there's no time to dally.

"We need to address this issue with the fierce urgency of now, which based off the legislative calendar means finishing it by July 31," said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesJeffries on Senate coronavirus bill: 'Totally irrelevant' Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Brawls on Capitol Hill on Barr and COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democrat Caucus. "The American people need a meaningful and transformative intervention so we can turn this around."

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Schumer declines to say whether Trump executive orders are legal: They don't 'do the job' Schumer: Idea that 0 unemployment benefit keeps workers away from jobs 'belittles the American people' MORE (D-N.Y.) are set to meet Monday afternoon with a pair of top administration officials — Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Pelosi: 'Of course there's room for compromise' on 0-per-week unemployment benefit MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMeadows says he wants Trump nomination speech 'miles and miles away' from White House Pelosi: 'Of course there's room for compromise' on 0-per-week unemployment benefit Pelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table MORE — to launch the negotiations formally.

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Republicans in the Senate and White House are pushing a much smaller relief bill — in the range of $1 trillion — as their opening bid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) took to the chamber floor Tuesday morning to outline the major provisions in the Republicans' proposal, including new help for small businesses, more than $100 billion to help schools reopen safely, and another round of stimulus checks for individuals and families.

"The American job market needs another shot of adrenaline," he said.

McConnell did not mention a favored policy of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE — a payroll-tax cut — which White House leaders had touted as a central element of the package just a day earlier.

The $1 trillion figure is a non-starter for Democrats, who say it's woefully insufficient to address the dual crises of the fast-spreading pandemic and the economic devastation it has caused.

Democrats are also lining up in opposition to the payroll tax cut, if it does appear in the Republicans' bill, noting that it would do nothing to help the millions of recently unemployed people who aren't on any payrolls.

"There's no evidence that it's an appropriate intervention," said Jeffries.

With the sides still far apart, McConnell has suggested the negotiations will bleed into the first week of August, when the Senate — but not the House — is already scheduled to be in session.

House Democrats are already bracing for that possibility.

In a letter to colleagues last week, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (D-Md.) said the House is prepared to vote on an agreement — whenever it arrives.

"[T]he House will return, if needed, to do its job whenever required to help Americans get through this crisis," Hoyer wrote.