House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday praised the Senate’s sweeping, $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, but declined to say how the House would pass it.
“This bipartisan legislation takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.
She said the package did not go as far as a separate House bill but argued that “thanks to the unity and insistence of Senate and House Democrats, the bill has moved a great deal closer to America’s workers.”
Pelosi said Wednesday that House Democrats will evaluate the package before deciding next steps.
“House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action,” her statement said.
Pelosi has hoped to move the package quickly through the House by unanimous consent, allowing it to get to President Trump‘s desk without calling lawmakers back to Washington amid travel concerns surrounding the spreading pandemic.
But some members of her caucus have expressed concerns that they’ve been cut out of negotiations on the massive package, conducted largely by Senate leaders and White House officials. In a conference call with House Democrats Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers expressed reservations that they would be forced to swallow the Senate bill without providing their own input.
Pelosi, despite Republican efforts to sideline her from the talks, has been heavily involved in the negotiations, speaking frequently with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as he ironed out the final wrinkles with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
In a round of cable news interviews Tuesday morning she made clear that she hopes the Senate package meets enough of the Democrats’ requirements that the House can pass it unanimously, precluding the need to reconvene the House.
“Right now what we’re trying to do is work on the substance of this legislation so that we can quickly come to an agreement where we can have unanimous consent,” she told CNN.
The Democrats won a long list of victories in the $2 trillion package, including billions of dollars for hospitals, students, the unemployed and states struggling to finance emergency services.
Democratic leaders in both chambers are highlighting those provisions as they race to bring their members on board. It’s not as strong as the House’s alternative bill, Pelosi said, but marks a stark improvement over the Republicans’ initial proposal — an indication she wants to move it quickly through Congress.
It remains to be seen if her caucus will endorse the measure and allow it to move through the House unanimously.
On Tuesday’s conference call, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who represents hard-hit Seattle, warned that lawmakers need more information about the bill before they’re ready to rubber stamp it. She expressed concerns about protections for immigrants.
House Democrats have also pressed hard for a food stamp increase, which is not in the Senate bill and is sure to pose a major concern for liberal champions of the program, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
In hopes of appeasing those members, Democratic leaders are already telling lawmakers that food stamps will be in the next, fourth round of coronavirus relief, according to a former leadership staffer familiar with those conversations.
House Democrats have also pressed hard for a food stamp increase, voicing concerns that it wouldn’t be included in the Senate bill, which would spark an outcry from liberal champions of the program, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
This story was updated at 1:51 p.m.