WASHINGTON (AP) — Although timing for the House’s return isn’t set, the outlines are emerging for a Democratic-driven bill to aid states and local governments, the Postal Service, and boost contact tracing to track the Coronavirus.
Democratic leaders promise that the House will deliver legislation to help state and local governments through the COVID-19 crisis as early as next week, though the measure is still being drafted by committee chairs and party leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Number two House Democrat Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that party leadership is hoping for bipartisan backing for the upcoming bill, the fifth effort to respond to the devastation COVID-19 has delivered to the economy and U.S. life. Ultimately, it’ll take arduous bipartisan negotiations to produce a bill but the right dynamic hasn’t caught fire yet.
Hoyer said he backs $500 billion in aid to state and local governments with a supplemental aid package for smaller cites left out of previous aid bills. He said the measure would bail out the Postal Service, contain funding for absentee voting this fall, and other priorities like advanced tracing to monitor the virus as states try to open up without sparking a second wave.
For now, the House is staying away because of the pandemic, although the GOP-controlled Senate is open. Republicans there face internal divisions over spending and how ambitious to be in the upcoming round to respond to Depression-era jobless levels.
Some Republicans such as Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and a group of GOP governors want to be more generous to states confronting furloughs and cuts to services as revenues plummet and unemployment insurance and other costs spike.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday it’s time to push “pause” on more aid legislation — even as he repeated a “red line” demand that any new aid package include liability protections for hospitals, health care providers and businesses operating and reopening.