House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said state and local governments require up to $1 trillion for coronavirus costs, a stunning benchmark for the next support package that will surely run into opposition from Senate Republicans.
Pelosi noted that the federal government may not be able to provide that much support. But acknowledged that money for “heroes” is certainly required to prevent layoffs as most governors and mayors are running low on budget.
The speaker suggested that the best way Americans can support front-line community workers is to ensure they don’t lose their jobs to budget cuts.
“This is something of the highest priority. It honours our heroes.” Pelosi said while adding that Nurses, transit bus drivers, and other workers are risking their lives to save lives, and now they’re going to lose their jobs.”
The $1 trillion price tag follows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggestion to be open to considering more funds in the next coronavirus relief bill, but that figure will be an addition to almost $3 trillion that Congress has already approved to salvage the economy and battle the health crisis.
President Donald Trump had said at the White House, “We’ll see what happens. If we do that, we’ll have to get something for it.”
Congress is expected to reopen next week as the House convenes key committee hearings and the Senate gavels into session after being shuttered for more than a month during the pandemic.
Senators will be required to wear masks, keep 6 feet apart and have most staff work from home, according to the official rules. At the private Republican lunches, it will be just three senators to a table while Democrats will have lunch by conference call.
Although the opening is amid Senators lamenting over the health risks of resuming operations.
It’s also most likely that the key public hearings will not have many members of the public, under guidance from the Senate Rules Committee that says people can view the proceedings on their devices online.
Other officials are most concerned about the hundreds of cooks, custodial staff and maintenance workers who usually run the vast Capitol complex for the 100 senators.
Meanwhile, the House had declined this week to reopen the session after the Capitol physician warned it was not worth the pending health risks. McConnell has declined to answer question seeking to know if he consulted with the physician before deciding to resume Senate operations.
In respect of the new support package, McConnell said on Fox Thursday that he’s willing to consider money for the states but isn’t about to send federal dollars to bail out overspending.
“We’re not interested in borrowing money from future generations to send down to states to help them with bad decisions they made in the past unrelated to the coronavirus epidemic,” the GOP leader said.
McConnell insists any fresh funding must be tied to liability reforms to prevent what he described as, “an epidemic of lawsuits” against doctors, hospitals and businesses reopening in the pandemic.
While with President Trump at the White House, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said his state alone may need $20 billion to $30 billion, while adding that, “This is a big hit. We don’t see it as a bailout.”