- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2020

House Democrats are considering putting together a new coronavirus relief bill with a potential vote to be scheduled as soon as next week.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed Democratic leaders are discussing a package between $2.2 and 2.4 trillion, but said their ideal solution would be a deal with the White House.

“I don’t have an expectation at this point in time [for a vote] because our focus is we want to get a deal or an agreement with Mnuchin and the Senate because we want a bill passed and signed so that’s what our focus is, trying to get an agreement before we go home,” Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said.

“We’re really focused on trying to get a negotiated deal — the reason being that a message bill is one thing, but we want to get something signed so people get money,” he added.

News of the Democrats’ latest attempt to pass a new bill was first reported by Politico and was confirmed to The Washington Times by a Democratic aide. The package is expected to include new funds for the small business Paycheck Protection Program, another round of direct payments, and relief for airlines and restaurants.

This all comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected other offers and requests from her members for narrow votes for enhanced unemployment benefits and a more comprehensive bipartisan proposal that would have cost approximately $2 trillion.

Her argument was that Democrats had done their job passing a $3.4 trillion package in May and offered to lower that cost during negotiations with the White House.

Many Democrats, included Mr. Hoyer, have become increasingly anxious about the lack of new legislation to address the coronavirus pandemic, particularly those facing tough reelection fights back home in their districts.

“I think we ought to be taking up COVID-19 legislation before we leave here, and I don’t think we ought to wait. People are really hurting,” Mr. Hoyer said Wednesday.

There have been several petitions to leadership since August, and more so in recent weeks, to add COVID-19 relief to the agenda before they go on their October break.

Talks between the White House and top Democrats collapsed in August, but both Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin made recent overtures to restart negotiations.

Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi have gotten a deal four times, you know, we ought to be able to do it a fifth,” Mr. Hoyer said.

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