Pelosi unveils coronavirus aid package with stimulus checks of up to $6,000 per house and $200B in ‘hazard pay’ – The Sun

NANCY Pelosi has unveiled a coronavirus aid package with stimulus checks of up to $6,000 per house and $200billion in "hazard pay".

The House Speaker said Tuesday the package would comprise more than $3 trillion in aid with nearly $1 trillion set aside for states, cities and local governments, aid to essential workers, and a new round of cash payments to individuals.

The House is expected to vote on the package as soon as Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there is no “urgency” to act on new legislation.

The so-called Heroes Act would provide nearly $1 trillion for states, cities and tribal governments to avert layoffs and additional $200 billion in “hazard pay” for essential workers, according a summary.

It will offer a fresh round of direct payments of $1,200 to individuals, increased to up to $6,000 per household, and launches a $175 billion housing assistance fund to help pay rents and mortgages.

There is $75 billion more for virus testing.

It would continue, through January, the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits. It adds a 15 per cent increase for food stamps and new help for paying employer-backed health coverage.

For businesses, there’s an employee retention tax credit.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the bill “will be ready” to call lawmakers back to Washington for the vote.

But the legislation is heading straight into a Senate roadblock. Senate Republicans are not planning to vote on any new relief until June, after a Memorial Day recess.

President Donald Trump has already signed into law nearly $3 trillion in COVID-19 aid approved by Congress.

The package extends some provisions from previous aid packages, and adds new ones.

There are other new resources, including for the U.S. Postal Service, the 2020 Census and the November election. The bill also provides $3.6 billion to help local officials prepare for the challenges of holding elections during the pandemic.

The popular Payroll Protection Program, which has been boosted in past bills, would see another $10 billion to ensure under-served businesses and nonprofit organizations have access to grants through a disaster loan program.

As states weigh the health risks of re-opening, McConnell said the nation needs to “regroup and find a more sustainable middle ground between total lockdown and total normalcy.”

The Republican leader on Tuesday called the emerging Democratic bill a “big laundry list of pet priorities.”

“To those who would suggest a pause, I would say the hunger doesn’t take a pause, the rent doesn’t take a pause,” Pelosi said late Monday on MSNBC. “We have a big need. It’s monumental.”

One provision holding up the package is how best to funnel direct cash to households.

A proposal from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, could be crucial to winning votes from the more liberal lawmakers. It would provide three-months of guaranteed paychecks for those making less than $100,000 a year.

Hoyer said the Jayapal proposal remains “under consideration.”

But Senate Republicans are in no rush to spend what could be trillions more on aid.

“I don’t think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately,” McConnell told reporters Monday at the Capitol.

McConnell said he has been in close contact with the White House, assessing the aid Congress has already approved in response to the virus outbreak and next steps.

Trump is expected to meet Tuesday with a group of Senate Republicans. “If we decide to go forward, we’ll go forward together,” McConnell said.

His priority is to ensure any new package includes liability protections for health care providers and businesses that are reopening.

Senate Republicans are not expected to act on any further aid until after the Memorial Day recess, according to a senior Republican aide unauthorized to discuss the planning and granted anonymity.

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