- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called Democrats’ new $3 trillion coronavirus rescue package an “American wish list” and said the bill is directly related to swiftly combating issues tied to COVID-19.

“We put down what we think this country needs, and this is not any wish list that is not related to the coronavirus and to this time frame,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We made that a criterion for consideration. This is all about the here and now.”

“I call it an American wish list so that we can defeat this virus, help people in the meantime and honor our heroes,” she said. “It’s a big price, but the American people are worth it.”

The bulk of the spending in the more than $3 trillion legislation is tied to the pandemic response and includes more direct payments to Americans, close to $1 trillion in aid for states and localities, and billions more for frontline worker hazard pay, testing and tracing efforts, and rent and mortgage subsidies.

But Democrats also managed to include longstanding party priorities, including expanding vote-by-mail and relaxing some voter ID requirements and extending permission for legal and some illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S.

The bill also cuts taxes for the rich by way of a two-year holiday on a cap on the federal state and local tax deduction, a benefit largely enjoyed by wealthier taxpayers in blue, high-tax states.

Republicans have said lawmakers should wait and see how the nearly $3 trillion Congress approved in four previous coronavirus bills affects the economy before racking up additional debt.

Mrs. Pelosi rejected that view.

“Republicans say oh, we need a pause,” she said. “Well, are they going to pause the hunger or the evictions? Are they going to pause the out-of-work anger and pain people are feeling? This isn’t a time for [a] pause — this is a time for us to really have a strategic plan to test, trace, treat, and isolate.”

The bill is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Democratic leadership is planning for a House vote on Friday, as many in the party continue to raise health concerns about Congress’ convening during the pandemic.

Mrs. Pelosi is also dealing with complaints from liberals that the measure doesn’t go far enough.

Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on Tuesday asked that any vote be delayed until at least next week so members have more time to digest the 1,815-page bill.

More than a dozen Democratic committee chairs said in a letter to colleagues late Tuesday that the scale of the crisis demands “extraordinary urgency” and that the House will be proceeding with the Friday vote.

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