- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi teed up a Wednesday night vote for House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill — but she cautioned negotiations are still continuing with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“Today, Secretary Mnuchin and I had an extensive conversation and we found areas where we are seeking further clarification. Our conversations will continue,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said in a statement. “We will be proceeding with our vote tonight on the updated Heroes Act in order to formalize our proffer to Republicans in the negotiations to address the health and economic catastrophe in our country.”

The speaker and Mr. Mnuchin met for more than an hour to discuss their latest offers to reach a bipartisan agreement for a comprehensive relief bill.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days, we still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do. And we’re gonna see where we end up,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters.

Earlier on Wednesday, he said he was coming in with an offer around $1.5 trillion. When pressed by reporters after his meetings, Mr. Mnuchin wouldn’t say whether Republicans would go above that.

The Democrats’ bill reauthorizes the small business Paycheck Protection Program, provides another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, $225 billion for education and $57 billion for child care, $75 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing, and relief for the airline and restaurant industries.

It also includes increased food assistance benefits, $436 billion in state, local, and tribal government funding, ramps up OSHA worker protections, and restores the $600 a week in boosted unemployment payments.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said he hasn’t formally whipped the vote count yet and acknowledges there are “always concerns” from members but expects the bill to pass.

Many Democrats, particularly those from tough swing districts, have been pushing party leaders since August to put another relief bill to a vote before the election.

The last time any sort of COVID-19 relief package passed either chamber was in May, when the House passed a $3.4 trillion package.

The bill likely won’t go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissing it as “unserious.”

“House Democrats are trying to save face by introducing yet another multi-trillion-dollar far-left wish list with virtually all the same non-COVID-related poison-pills as their last unserious bill,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said. “If they continue to refuse to get serious then American families will continue to hurt.”

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