House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package Tuesday, which would be the fifth this year. The House is expected to vote on it Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says there is no “urgency.” The package is an 1,800-page document, which offers something for everyone.
To say that it is a “sweeping effort” is putting it mildly. It contains $1 trillion for states, cities, and tribal governments, plus “hazard pay” for essential workers and a new round of $1,200 cash payments to individuals with up to $6,000 per household.
The popular Payroll Protection Program, which has been boosted in past bills, would see another $10 billion to ensure under-served businesses and nonprofit organizations have access to grants through a disaster loan program.
For hospitals and other health care providers, there’s a $100 billion infusion to help cover costs and additional help for hospitals serving low-income communities.
There’s another $600 million to tackle the issue of rapid spread of the virus in state and federal prisons, along with $600 million in help to local police departments for salaries and equipment
The bill would continue, through January, the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits. It adds a 15% increase for food stamps, new subsidies for laid-off workers to pay health insurance premiums and a special “Obamacare” sign-up period. For businesses, it provides an employee retention tax credit.
And, there’s a $25 billion bailout of the Post Office.
Tugging at heart strings, Pelosi noted, “There are those who said, ‘Let’s just pause,’” she said. “Hunger doesn’t take a pause. Rent doesn’t take a pause. Bills don’t take a pause.”
The package is a partisan offering with no real input from Republicans, who would prefer to assess the impact of the earlier $4 trillion expenditures before approving still more monetary outlays.
However, the political peril of doing nothing during an election year could prove challenging. Already 30 million Americans are unemployed; and if there’s another flareup of coronavirus outbreaks, Pelosi and her legions will play the blame game. Although some GOP senators flatly reject the House bill, if the economy doesn’t return to some form of normalcy, they may pay the price come the November elections.