Democrats unveil $2.2T updated pandemic relief package

Daniel Fowler
September 30, 2020

The proposal, which is still called the HEROES Act, includes a second round of stimulus payments amounting to $1,200 per individual and $500 for dependents - just like the first round.

Pelosi and Schumer initially sought a $3.4 trillion relief package, then said they were willing to scale that back by at least a trillion dollars.

The renewed negotiations mark a Hail Mary effort by both leaders to iron out the stubborn differences that have blocked a deal, most notably the Democrats' demand for nearly $500 billion in help for state and local governments - funding opposed by President Trump and his Republican allies in the Capitol. The bill is expected to be put to a vote and pass by Thursday in the House.

The updated HEROES Act proposal includes funding for schools, small businesses, restaurants, and up to $25 billion for airlines.

Pelosi, a California Democrat, said she hopes to strike a deal with Republicans with the new plan.

In the letter, Pelosi said Democrats in negotiations offered the White House to come down a trillion dollars in their request if the Republicans would go up by the same amount.

Pelosi has made clear that an agreement with the White House is her preferred route.

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For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is insisting that a liability shield against potential lawsuits brought against businesses, schools and universities that reopen during the pandemic be part of the legislation.

"The ball is now in the court of Senate Republicans and the White House, as it has been for more than four months", said Saunders.

"The secretary and I have had a couple of conversations this morning, we also had a conversation with the president, so hopefully we'll make some progress and find a solution for the American people", Meadows said.

Still, there were plenty of other voices who cast doubt on a potential deal this week, pointing out that the two sides were still far apart. "I believe this legislation represents a reasonable compromise that meets the needs we identified in the Heroes Act that passed the House in May". White House senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow panned Democrats' $2.2 trillion offer, calling it a "very big number". He urged a "no" vote.

"With the country soaring past 200,000 Covid-19 deaths, it is long past time for Congress to take action", said Gupta.

The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the USA, applauded House Democrats for putting forth "a plan that prioritizes the nation's students, educators, schools, and campuses in the continued fight against the Covid-19 pandemic". "But he has to come back with much more money to get the job done". However, Speaker Pelosi has consistently indicated that the Democrats will not until a stimulus package has been passed prior to the presidential elections.

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