“It is clear that we need to do more, and that is particularly true when it comes to protecting the health and safety of frontline health workers,” House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told reporters earlier Monday.
The bill could see a vote on the floor within weeks. The House is scheduled to be out until April 20, and lawmakers are eager to avoid a return to the Capitol until absolutely necessary amid the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.
Pelosi said the House would likely vote on the package after they return from the Easter and Passover holidays in late April, though there’s always the possibility lawmakers return sooner if Congress is needed to act. Alternatively, if lawmakers are far from a deal, they may stay away for longer.
“I do think that it is really important that as soon as we are here, we are ready to pass legislation,” Pelosi said.
Three days after Trump signed the $2 trillion bill, it’s not immediately clear how much more help might be needed. But top Democrats have been vocal about pushing for another rescue measure — with even bigger cash payments to Americans — as the virus continues to ravage the U.S. economy and more are infected. Initial jobless claims have soared past 3 million and public health officials are predicting potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Many Democrats are also eager to make another fight for policies — like robust family and medical leave programs and stronger worker protections for first responders — that were turned down by GOP negotiators in previous bills.
Democrats have also said the federal government will likely need to send more cash to state and local governments, as well as cover the costs associated with coronavirus treatments and food assistance. Even as he battles with some governors, Trump has also acknowledged the need to deliver more emergency funds to states.
“States are bleeding out,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), whose district has 1,800 cases, said in an interview Monday. “There’s no revenue coming in, then you add to that, the massive costs of care and treatment. That’s just a huge hole to dig out of. We’re going to need more resources.”
Then, Gottheimer added, there are big questions about how to stimulate the economy in the weeks and months ahead when normal life begins to resume: “Are people going to rush back to a restaurant? Are they going to rush back to an amusement park? There are going to be certain things that take longer to come back.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have said it’s too early to consider what might be included in a potential “Phase 4” package, noting that the current relief measure is in the process of being implemented.
“Let’s let this work. Let’s let this work inside America,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last week.
Senate Republicans in particular are not eager to rush into another large stimulus package, particularly with a focus on infrastructure and other spending not directly related to the health crisis. And they were quick to dismiss Pelosi’s “Phase 4” proposal as nothing more than an ideological wish list.
“It just seems to be a fundamental difference in how we’re approaching this and how the House is approaching it,” Cornyn said.
Senate Republicans are also wary of getting forced to pass another House spending package that they had little input on. While the Senate passed the “Phase 2” package overwhelmingly, McConnell had to urge his caucus to “gag and go for it” because of concerns over its paid sick leave provisions.