House Democrats are already working on a fourth stimulus package to help Americans deal with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The package, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says will top $1 trillion, seeks to build on the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed on March 28th.
The follow-up legislation seeks to provide more money for medical equipment, expand unemployment benefits from four months to six months, provide another round of cash payments to Americans, and get food stamps to families whose children rely on school lunches.
Pelosi also wants to provide more funds to assist governments and small businesses, including farmers.
“We’ve done a great deal, and we just have to get that out,” said Pelosi. “But as it goes out, we know already that the acceleration of the pace of the virus, and this assault – not only on the lives but the livelihood of the American people – that we must do more. So we’re preparing for CARES 2 already.”
Pelosi wants to pass CARES 2 this month, although the House is not scheduled to be back in session until April 20th at the earliest.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP lawmakers have acknowledged the necessity of another package, but would like to see CARES take effect before moving forward.
“She needs to stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis,” said McConnell, referring to Democrats’ efforts to insert unrelated provisions into the CARES Act.
Pelosi has also taken the liberty of forming a bipartisan House committee to oversee the federal response to the pandemic and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. The panel, led by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), “will root out waste, fraud, and abuse,” said Pelosi. “It will protect against price-gouging, profiteering, and political favoritism.”
Trump and other Republicans see the committee as unnecessary. “I want to remind everyone here in our nation’s capital, especially in Congress, that this is not the time for politics, endless partisan investigations,” said Trump. “Here we go again. They’ve already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years.”
I agree with McConnell that Pelosi’s strategy is premature. We should wait until CARES takes effect and determine its strengths before moving forward with another package.
Researchers are working on several promising treatments, and it is possible that fewer people will die from COVID-19 than we expected. It seems to me that Pelosi is trying to push her own agenda, perhaps to boost the Democratic vote or to attack Trump in November.