House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted on Friday that congressional efforts to deliver coronavirus relief are not finished, saying there will be yet another major legislative package after Congress passed $484 billion in aid for small businesses, hospitals and testing this week.
“There will be a bill, and it will be expensive,” Pelosi said at a news conference in response to Republican concerns about advancing another bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned this week that lawmakers need to take into account “the amount of debt we’re adding to our country and the future impact of that.” McConnell and other Republicans have also indicated that they want to wait to see the impact of all the bills that Congress has passed so far – which amount to historic levels of aid enacted in a relatively short amount of time – before determining if more aid is needed.
Congressional Democrats, however, have already begun to outline their priorities for a new bill, including substantial funding for state and local governments that have been stretched thin by their responses to the virus. Federal funding for state and local governments has been a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans amid coronavirus relief talks.
McConnell took a hard line Wednesday against more funding for state and local governments, saying Republicans are not interested in “revenue replacement for state governments” or “solving their pension problems.”
McConnell has suggested Democrats are trying to get the federal government to essentially bail out state and local governments for bad decisions they made related to public pension obligations and other sources of expensive debt.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” McConnell told Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview earlier this week – a remark that sparked backlash from both Democrats and some Republicans.
Republican Rep. Pete King of New York criticized McConnell’s comments Wednesday night, tweeting that the “dismissive remark that States devastated by Coronavirus should go bankrupt rather than get the federal assistance they need and deserve is shameful and indefensible.”
Pelosi on Friday reiterated that Democrats view money for state and local governments in an upcoming legislative package as a non-negotiable: “There will not be a bill without state and local, OK?”
Asked how much funding for state and local governments she would like to see in another bill, Pelosi said, “probably a number equivalent to what we’ve done for small businesses.”
Congress has approved more than $600 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, the high demand small business loans measure included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March.
Pelosi said that Democrats “look forward” to taking up a new legislative package “as soon as possible because jobs are at stake. The health and well-being of the American people are at stake and the sooner we can get this done the better.”
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.