Pelosi hopes House can pass COVID-19 relief within two weeks

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Emerging from a Friday meeting with President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she is hopeful the House will send a sweeping COVID-19 relief bill to the Senate within two weeks.

Biden and congressional Democrats are under enormous pressure to quickly pass the president’s nearly $2 trillion coronavirus package as the death toll continues to climb and millions of Americans remain unemployed.

“Hopefully in a two-week period of time we’ll send something over to the Senate,” Pelosi said outside the White House, flanked by other party leaders and the House committee chairmen responsible for writing the legislation.

The Speaker said COVID-19 legislation would be passed “long before” March 15, when enhanced unemployment insurance and other crisis-related programs and initiatives are set to expire. Pelosi’s letter to Democrats on Friday morning said she wants to pass a relief package through her chamber by the end of February.

The House is expected to pass a budget resolution — amended early Friday morning by the Senate — later in the afternoon. That resolution paves the way for Senate Democrats to avoid the 60-vote filibuster and pass the COVID-19 package with a simple majority, without any help from Republicans; the GOP has offered a rival $600 billion proposal that Democrats dismiss as woefully inadequate.

“I’m going to act, and I’m going to act fast,” Biden said after the meeting. “I’d like to be doing it with the support of Republicans. I’ve met with Republicans — there’s some really fine people want to get something done. But they’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go.”

Biden has already provided the framework: His $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes additional $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans; hundreds of billions for more vaccines, testing and aid to reopen schools; $350 billion for state and local governments; and hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

On Monday, the House Ways and Means, Financial Services, Appropriations and other committees will begin putting together various elements of the Biden rescue package and marking them up; then the Budget Committee compiles and packages the bills and “scrubs” the legislation to make sure there are no inconsistencies or technical issues.

Finally, the package will go to the Rules Committee and then the House floor.

Pelosi reiterated that this current rescue package won’t be the last.

“This is the American rescue plan to save jobs. Next we’ll prepare for the recovery act to create many more jobs,” Pelosi said.

Friday marked Pelosi’s first public trip to the White House since Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20. She had not been there since October 2019, when she stood up, pointed at former President Trump, lectured him and walked out of the meeting — one of just many clashes with the former president.

“As a figure of speech, people will say, ‘I’m delighted to be here,’ ” Pelosi said of her meeting with the new Democratic president. “But I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say, ‘We are really delighted to be here.’ ”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Jobs Nancy Pelosi Unemployment

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