• Thomas Parker

Speaker Pelosi rejects White House's $1 trillion pandemic relief package limit

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she rejects the Trump administration's call to limit the next virus relief bill to $1 trillion, arguing that Congress will need to approve at least double that amount amid a surge of cases.

"A trillion dollars is OK, that’s an interesting starting point. But that doesn’t come anywhere near," Pelosi said at her news conference.

Congressional leadership, including Pelosi, are currently drafting a fifth massive spending bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over the size and scope of the package.

The top aide to Vice President Mike Pence said the White House wants Congress to cap the size of that bill to $1 trillion.

“There’s obviously been a lot of stimulus put in the system over the last couple bills, and so the price tag for us would be that,” said Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff.

But a $1 trillion-or-less package is a nonstarter for House Democrats who passed their own $3 trillion bill in May. The Republican-led Senate had ignored that package for weeks.

“Oh, it can only be a trillion dollars,” Pelosi said Thursday, scoffing at the GOP’s proposed price tag and laying out her own demands. “No, we need a trillion dollars for state and local. We need another trillion dollars for unemployment insurance, and direct payments.”

Republicans have signaled they support some of the Democrats’ proposed relief efforts, including another round of direct payments to millions of Americans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week that he would support relief checks going to Americans earning $40,000 a year or less — a threshold Pelosi said “would have to be explained and justified.”

"We do support another round of economic impact payments,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday. “The level and the criteria we'll be discussing with the Senate.”

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