The next phase of economic relief will top $1 trillion, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) predicted Monday.
Pelosi spoke to Democrats in a caucus-wide conference call and discussed the next phase of relief, dubbed CARES 2. While lawmakers do not have an exact timeline for the next measure, the speaker said committee heads are already drafting the potential legislation, which will largely build on the $2.2 trillion bipartisan relief measure passed last month.
The CARES Act provided $1,200 cash payments to most Americans — a concept Democrats want to repeat — as well as $350 billion in small business loans and $250 billion in unemployment benefits.
According to the Hill, Democrats are hoping to build on both, providing more for small business loans and expand unemployment from four months to six months. They also hope to increase funding for safety equipment for front line workers.
Pelosi has sent mixed signals on incorporating changes to election methods in the upcoming bill, but several members of her caucus, as well as high profile progressive personalities including former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias, have been clamoring for such.
“We’ve had three bills that have been bipartisan. I think right now we need a fourth bipartisan bill. And I think the bill could be very much like the bill we just passed,” she said during an appearance on CNBC last week.
“I’m very much in favor of doing some of the things that we need to do to meet the needs of clean water, more broadband, and the rest of that. That may have to be for a bill beyond this,” she added.
However, it is not clear if she is including her party’s desire to overhaul voting methods in that admission.
Not supporting vote by mail is “so undermining of what our founders had in mind about full participation. So in this next bill, we hope to get more resources to vote by mail,” Pelosi said last week:
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 3, 2020
Members of the GOP are gearing up for what could be a bitter partisan battle, with some warning Democrats want to use the crisis to effectively federalize elections.
“Our Democratic friends want the federal government to take over elections, but historically those have been handled at the state level,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, according to Politico.
“Around the world we’ve had people in new democracies go to vote when their lives were at risk because the right to vote was so precious,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) remarked. “Most Americans would be very skeptical of significant changes in our ability to go cast a ballot in person, certainly at this point.”
Congress is in recess until at least April 20.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said he is “not in favor of rushing” the next phase of relief until lawmakers have a better feel of how the last measure is playing out, has warned Pelosi to “stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis.”