House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is ready to negotiate yet another coronavirus stimulus package, just days after Donald Trump signed a massive, $2 trillion rescue bill into law.
With backlash over her handling of that bill not quite behind her, Pelosi said this week that she wants to move on to a fourth bill that will include infrastructure spending, the Washington Times reported. President Donald Trump hinted at some areas of agreement, tweeting Tuesday that an interview Pelosi gave on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday “wasn’t bad” and that he is eager to work on infrastructure as well.
“”I watched a portion of low rated (very) Morning Psycho (Joe) this Morning in order to see what Nancy Pelosi had to say, & what moves she was planning to further hurt our Country. Actually, other than her usual complaining that I’m a terrible person, she wasn’t bad. Still praying!” Trump tweeted.
Pelosi floats fourth stimulus bill
Partisanship plagued the efforts to pass the most recent legislative package, signed into law Friday by Trump after days of marathon negotiations. Republicans had accused Pelosi of holding up the stimulus package by trying to insert irrelevant, progressive agenda items into the bill. The final package includes direct checks to Americans under a certain income level, expansions of unemployment benefits, and billions of dollars to prop up large and small businesses, among other items.
Last week’s bill followed a “phase two” bill that broadened paid sick leave and funded free coronavirus testing, as well as the initial $8.3 billion emergency bill to fund the fight against the virus itself. Congress is taking a break from passing any more bills, at least for now, but Pelosi has seized the opportunity to begin discussing the next round. The theme will be “recovery,” with a focus on rebuilding infrastructure, protecting workers in essential businesses from catching the virus, and expanding on benefits granted during the previous phases.
“There are infrastructure needs that our country has that directly relate to how we are proceeding with the coronavirus. Many more people are teleworking, or tele-educating or really communicating with family and friends,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi is also interested in broadening occupational protections for workers in essential businesses such as hospitals, airports and grocery stores, all of whom may be exposed to the virus, and she wants to build on benefits from phases two and three, including increased direct payments to Americans, free coronavirus treatment (rather than just testing), and expanded leave policies, among other provisions.
A previous attempt at infrastructure negotiations between Trump and Pelosi infamously fell apart last year.
Trump, speaker strike measured tones
Republicans have shown little appetite for passing another bill right away after stomaching the $2 trillion rescue legislation — the single biggest stimulus bill in American history, and a major departure from the fiscal conservatism for which Republicans are typically known. But Trump, in a sign of agreement with Pelosi, said Tuesday that he is eager to pass “VERY BIG & BOLD” legislation to revitalize America’s infrastructure.
“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4” Trump tweeted.
The rare comity made for a contrast with the partisan squabbling that has continued to shadow efforts among elected officials to respond to the coronavirus. Pelosi said this weekend that Trump “fiddled” as the virus spread, a dramatic accusation to which Trump responded by calling Pelosi a “sick puppy.” Trump and others have pointed out that it was the speaker’s party that was focused on impeachment, not coronavirus, at the time when the pandemic was taking off.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tamped down on talk of another bill Tuesday, hinting that he would have little tolerance for any attempts by Pelosi to use the crisis to shepherd through unrelated policy items. “I think we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out,” McConnell said during an appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show.