Speaking in a statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports a $908 billion economic stimulus package presented on Tuesday by a non-partisan group of lawmakers. The bipartisan bill is about half the amount offered by the White House during the pre-election negotiations with Pelosi.
By October, President Donald Trump’s negotiators increased their compromise offer to $1.8 trillion after the Democrats in the House of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion package. However, Pelosi rejected the compromise on the grounds that it did not go far enough and that there was insufficient language regarding the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the health care sector. These negotiations led to a stalemate.
On Tuesday, nine senators – four Republicans, four Democrats and one Independent – together with the non-partisan problem-solving faction in the House of Representatives unveiled a compromise worth $908 billion. Although the package does not contain nearly as much help as the Democrats had called for before the election, Pelosi and Schumer said they support the bill in the “spirit of compromise.
“While we made a new offer to Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, in the spirit of compromise, we believe that the bipartisan framework introduced by senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan bipartisan negotiations,” the top Democratic lawmakers said in a statement.
“Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need for action is immediate and we believe that by negotiating in good faith we could reach an agreement,” they said.
The $908 billion bipartisan bill would provide an additional $300 a week for unemployed Americans and nearly $290 billion in aid for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. The legislation – tabled by Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia – includes approximately $82 billion for education, $45 billion for transportation agencies, $26 billion for nutritional assistance programs, and $16 billion to cover health care costs related to coronavirus testing and the distribution of outstanding vaccines. However, a further round of $1,200 is not included for most Americans to directly review support measures.
Washington Newsday asked Pelosi’s press secretary for comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication. Pelosi had previously been criticized by some Democrats for rejecting the much larger offer presented by Trump’s negotiators in October.
“She’s certainly making a mistake,” Congressman Max Rose, a New York Democrat who recently lost his re-election bid, told CNN on October 27 when asked about Pelosi’s rejection of the White House offer. “I mean, let’s remember the Republican Party, the President, [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnukhin – two months ago they didn’t want to do anything,” Rose said, adding that the Americans “must act right now.
Congressman Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, also urged Pelosi to close the $1.8 billion deal before the election. In a post-election interview with Axios on 10 November Khanna said that the top democratic legislature should accept the White House’s offer.
“If we get $1.8 trillion? I think we would definitely want to make the deal. And it will be catastrophic if we don’t,” the congressman said.
The Democratic former presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, urged Pelosi to close the deal in October as well. “Please let Congress pass this for the American people. Nancy Pelosi says yes – this is a great victory for millions of families who are suffering right now,” Yang tweeted on October 12.
Although Schumer and Pelosi support the new bipartisan proposal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell favors a smaller and more targeted package worth a total of about $500 billion. The Kentucky Republican, who will decide whether a proposal goes to the Senate for a vote, said Tuesday that the bipartisan bill is a waste of time.
This story has been updated with additional information.