Even as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in the U.S., the lawmakers have still not returned to the stimulus negotiating table. The two sides are still far apart in terms of the cost of the stimulus bill. President-elect Joe Biden wants the Congress to approve the HEROES Act, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still against a big coronavirus stimulus package. Instead he wants a targeted package costing about $500 billion that may not include coronavirus stimulus checks.
Democrats came up with the HEROES Act in May, costing about $3.4 trillion. However, the latest version of the HEROES Act costs about $2.2 trillion. Both HEROES Act versions included coronavirus stimulus checks. It isn’t clear which version of the HEROES Act Biden was referring to, but whichever version it was, McConnell doesn’t support either.
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Previously on several occasions, McConnell has cleared that the Senate won’t support a stimulus bill running into the trillions. He even introduced bills costing about $500 billion in the Senate, but they were blocked by Senate Democrats.
Talking about the HEROES Act on Tuesday, McConnell called it “unserious” and noted that some moderate Democrats are not in favor of it either. Pointing out the drawbacks in the bill, McConnell noted that it contains big tax cuts for rich people but only in “blue states” and no paycheck protection program.
House Democrats’ so-called “HEROES Act” is so unserious that it was condemned by the Speaker's own moderate Democrats the instant she put it out.
Huge tax cuts for rich people in blue states, but no second round of the Paycheck Protection Program? Those are their priorities?
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) November 17, 2020
Biden, however, believes that passing the HEROES Act is the “right thing to do.” The president-elect says the country can only return to normal after they “shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses.”
Pelosi, Schumer ask McConnell to resume negotiations
In an attempt to break the standstill on the stimulus negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged McConnell to resume the negotiations. On Tuesday, the two sent a letter to McConnell requesting him to urgently return to the negotiating table to talk on a comprehensive economic stimulus package.
“Millions of unemployed Americans and those facing eviction and hunger demand action from their leaders. The time to act is upon us like never before,” read a part of the letter.
In their letter, Pelosi and Schumer suggested that the size of the bill that McConnell wants wouldn’t be sufficient to address the needs of Americans. McConnell, on the other hand, recently cited positive jobs and vaccine data to put forward his point of a smaller, targeted bill.
McConnell, on Tuesday, reiterated that he is “open to a targeted bill roughly of the amount that we recommended, a half trillion dollars, which is not nothing.” Also, he reiterated his call to include liability protections in the stimulus package, something that Democrats have long been opposing.
Pelosi and Schumer want to come up with the stimulus package before the end of the year. However, they gave no indication if they would be willing to compromise on the cost of the package.