U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would delay or cancel her chamber’s August recess to pass another coronavirus relief bill as financial lifelines are poised to expire in the coming days, she said Tuesday.
“We absolutely have to. We also have to come to an agreement,” the California Democrat told CNN when asked if she would forgo or postpone representatives’ month-long return to their districts.
Congress would need to rush to craft pandemic relief legislation that could pass both the Democratic-held House and GOP-controlled Senate before the end of July. The chambers have not found consensus yet on how to address an ongoing economic and health crisis as coronavirus cases surge in southern and western states.
Democrats have pushed for a sprawling aid package to build on previous bills, calling to extend the enhanced federal unemployment insurance provision, send more direct payments to individuals, offer assistance to renters and homeowners and send relief to state and local governments. Republicans have outlined a more narrow approach: they aim to change rather than extend the jobless benefit, protect businesses and doctors from certain lawsuits and potentially send stimulus checks to fewer people than Democrats would want.
If Congress cannot act, millions of Americans will face a sudden and sharp drop in income when the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit expires at the end of the month. States will only pay the benefit through July 25 or July 26.
Pelosi also brought up the need to pass aid to help people stay in their homes as moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures expire in parts of the country.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed to end the $600 per week benefit. He has called it a “mistake” because it left many people making more at home than they did at their jobs. Late last month, the Kentucky Republicans said that “to have the basic protections of unemployment insurance is extremely important and should be continued.”
Speaking to CNBC last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House wanted to overhaul the jobless benefit plan but did not give details on how it aimed to address the coming income gulf. He said “you can assume” individuals will get “no more than 100%” of their normal pay.
The Trump administration has previously backed the possibility of offering Americans a “return to work” bonus.
The push to pass another relief bill comes as the pandemic rampages through the United States in a way that it has not hit any other country. Coronavirus cases continue to spike in California, Florida and Texas. The U.S. has now reported more than 3.3 million cases and more than 135,000 deaths from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
California, the most populous U.S. state, rolled back its reopening plans on Monday.
After two strong months of U.S. jobs growth as states restarted their economies, President Donald Trump has publicly projected little concern about the ongoing crisis. He has pushed for swift reopening of both businesses and schools.
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