Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, the majority leader in the House of Representatives, said Wednesday that he believes there is a chance that lawmakers will reach agreement on a new economic aid package in the coming days.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill hope to pass a new agreement before the end of the year as the coronavirus epidemic continues to rage throughout the United States. Republicans and Democrats remain divided on the scope and reach of a second bill since President Donald Trump enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in late March.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnukhin said on Wednesday that Trump was ready to sign the aid bill, which the majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, circulated among Republicans on Tuesday. But economists told Washington Newsday that the plan did not go far enough. Meanwhile, McConnell rejected another $900 billion proposal that a nonpartisan group of senators had tabled earlier this week.
Despite the ongoing disagreement between the two parties, Mnukhin and House of Representatives spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi discussed how to push another stimulus package earlier this week during their first official talks on the subject since October. Hoyer, a Democrat, said the discussions among lawmakers and the new proposals that have been presented in recent days are steps in the right direction.
Hoyer said on Wednesday that “all these measures are positive in order to work towards a compromise that can be supported by the House of Representatives, the Senate and the President of the United States,” the New York Times said. He told reporters that he was “hopeful that in the next few days we will be able to agree on a bill that will provide a response to these major crises, at least in the short term.
At a meeting on Monday, Hoyer and McConnell agreed that an agreement by the end of this week would be ideal, Bloomberg reported.
Washington Newsday turned to McConnell’s office for comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
By Wednesday, more than 13.7 million people in the U.S. had been diagnosed with the corona virus and more than 272,000 people had died of COVID-19, according to a data tracker at Johns Hopkins University. Many Americans who lost their jobs during the premature closures triggered by the health crisis were still unemployed in early December as the country experienced its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Congress quickly met in the spring to pass the CARES bill, a historic $2.2 trillion aid package that provided economic support for businesses, granted one-time audits to eligible Americans to boost the economy, and temporarily expanded unemployment insurance benefits. While the Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a new $2.2 trillion stimulus package this fall to revive federal unemployment benefits, which expire at the end of July, and to provide financial assistance to businesses and individuals, the bill did not find approval in the Republican-controlled Senate. McConnell and other top Republicans preferred economic stimulus packages with smaller price tags.