Sept. 29 (UPI) — House Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion pandemic relief proposal in an attempt to revive stalled negotiations with Republicans on another COVID-19 aid package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday in a letter to her Democratic colleagues that the measure will provide “the absolutely needed resources to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy over the coming months.”
The bill is an update to the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act that the House passed in May but that never made it to the GOP-controlled Senate floor.
The updated bill includes $600 in weekly unemployment benefits through January and a second round of $1,200 payments mailed to taxpayers as well as a $500 check for dependents. It also sets aside $182 billion for grade schools, $39 billion for post-secondary institutions and $57 billion for childcare support. It will also infuse the Paycheck Protection Program with more funds to keep struggling small businesses, including restaurants, afloat, among several other programs.
The substantially reduced Democratic proposal is still far above the $1 trillion Heal Act the Republicans pursued over the summer.
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.
“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America’s working families right now,” she said. “We have been able to make critical additions and reduce the cost of the bill by shortening the time covered for now.”
One of the substantial changes in the new bill is a drop from $1 trillion to $436 billion for local governments to pay vital workers, such as first responders and healthcare professionals.
In an interview Monday with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Pelosi said it’s now the Republicans’ turn to meet them.
“It takes money to crush the virus. It takes money to make the schools safe. It takes money to put money in people’s pockets,” she said, adding that she thinks a deal can be reached.
“I’m hopeful,” she said. “I’m optimistic.”