WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — House Democrats are prepared to pass an emergency coronavirus relief package even though Republicans in control of the Senate say it’s a nonstarter.
“Whether the (Trump) administration wants to work with us or not, we are going to pass something,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said. “As a way to say to the American public, ‘We are here to help. We know you’re hurting. We know our small businesses are hurting.'”
She explained the $2.2 trillion package is a slimmed-down version of the Democrats’ Heroes Act, which was passed in May but has not gone up for a vote in the Senate.
“We actually brought this proposal down by more than a trillion dollars,” Bustos said, emphasizing, “a trillion.”
It includes $600 weekly unemployment payments, direct checks for families, money for small businesses and aid for farmers.
Democrats said they wanted to get a deal done before the end of the week before the House adjourns Friday for a monthlong recess.
“We have a severe sense of urgency because of the people that we serve,” Bustos said.
But Republicans say Democrats’ plan still has too much in it and a price that that’s way too high.
“It’s full of a grab bag of special interest giveaways, the same old stuff,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said.
He also pointed out Democrats blocked the skinny option Republicans put forward earlier this month.
“I’m concerned there won’t be a deal before Election Day because, frankly, I don’t think the Democrats want one,” he said. “You could look in the United States Senate, they won’t even let us debate the issue.”
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is not walking away from the table. He met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday to work toward a compromise — though they didn’t reach one — and both said they intend to keep talking.
The Senate recesses Oct. 9, but could return early to confirm President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick.