Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are calling for at least $500 billion in spending in an emergency stopgap coronavirus relief bill.
The top Democrats in Congress pushed for an “interim” emergency coronavirus bill on Wednesday to include at least $500 billion in relief for small businesses, hospitals, states and food assistance programs.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer supported another $250 billion in loans to small companies — a sum the Trump administration has requested and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aims to pass through the Senate on Thursday. It would add to the $350 billion in aid approved as part of the $2 trillion emergency package passed last month. The Trump administration has reported high demand for the loans.
Democrats want the stopgap legislation to go further as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the country, stretching health-care resources and state budgets and shutting down schools and businesses. Pelosi and Schumer called for:
$250 billion in small business loans, with $125 billion going to community lenders
$100 billion to bolster hospitals and community health centers, with funds going toward the production of coronavirus tests and protective medical equipment
$150 billion for state and local governments (some officials such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is managing the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, said the last congressional bill did not do enough for states battling coronavirus)
A 15% increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit
The Democratic leaders described the bill as separate from one they aim to pass to expand the provisions of the CARES Act. The federal government has only started to implement the $2 trillion package, the largest emergency spending plan in U.S. history.
“After we pass this interim emergency legislation, Congress will move to pass a CARES 2 Act that will extend and expand the bipartisan CARES Act to meet the needs of the American people,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “CARES 2 must provide transformational relief as the American people weather this assault on their lives and livelihoods.”