Perhaps reacting to criticism that Democrats were not sufficiently on the offensive in the fight over coronavirus stimulus legislation, Nancy Pelosi released a $3 trillion next-step legislative proposal that is expected to reach the House floor by the end of this week. Even as congressional Republicans claim to need more time to see how earlier stimulus bills have functioned, House Democrats are laying down a marker that includes a larger round of direct payments to low-to-moderate income households, and a very large fund for the state and local governments that may otherwise start laying off employees and cutting the very programs needed to fight the pandemic.
Pelosi’s bill obviously won’t be enacted, but could put Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue on the spot, as Politico explains:
Democrats released their sprawling package, known as the Heroes Act, on Tuesday afternoon. The legislation includes $875 billion for cash for state and local governments, what Democratic leaders say is the centerpiece of the fifth coronavirus relief package. It also includes $20 billion each for tribal nations and for U.S. territories. The measure also includes provisions to support multi-employer pensions.
The legislation also includes a slew of liberal priorities left out of previous bills, including $75 billion for mortgage relief and $100 billion in assistance for renters, $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service and $3.6 billion to shore up elections.
The bill goes further than previous bills in other ways, too: It would include another round of $1,200 checks for adults making up to $75,000. Under this bill, kids would receive the same amount, instead of $500. It would make $10 billion available to small businesses that haven’t received funds from the Paycheck Protection Program.
The package seems designed to force Republican to explain why they are inclined to wait at least until June to consider any further stimulus measures even as the economy goes deeper into recession. And it covers most of the Democratic proposals left out of earlier legislation.
Still, some House progressives remain unhappy with the closed-door process by which Pelosi’s team put the bill together, and with the omission of major new funds for small businesses made contingent on maintenance of current payrolls.
So internally and externally, this House Democratic bill is an opening bid for further action, recognizing that the viability of any proposal may depend on public health and economic trends in the very near future.